In the first annual NA3HL South Division Showcase, the Capitals headed to Texas looking to assert themselves as the defending regular season division champions and to keep pace with Nashville. Three games later, the Caps emerged two wins stronger after a successful weekend.
On Friday afternoon, Topeka found themselves down by two early in the first when Tre Kautzman capitalized on a power play (assisted by Richard Yusa and Alex Sauer at 9:04) making it 2-1 heading into the second. With another man advantage in the middle frame, Sauer and Yusa picked up another assist, this time helping Colin O'Connor find the back of the net to tie the score at 13:03. Late in the third, defenseman Benton Deanovich fired home the game winner (assisted by Kautzman and Yusa) and the Caps held on for a 3-2 victory. Bailey Aust was credited with his third win of the season in net after stopping 29 of 31 shots on goal.
Against Nashville on Saturday, the Caps found themselves behind the eight ball again, trailing 3-0 late in the second when Tre Opack and Alex Sauer narrowed the deficit to one with a pair of power play goals to finish the period. It would not be enough, however, as Nashville pressed their advantage with two more scores in the third to win the game 5-2. The loss ensured that the Junior Predators would escape the weekend in sole possession of first place in the South.
In the Showcase finale on Sunday morning, the Capitals finally drew first blood on the back of Spencer Sabourin who found the net in the game's opening moments (assisted by Dylan Wattles and Colin O'Connor at 1:58). Sugar Land retaliated with three unanswered goals broken up by a Wattles netter (assisted by Alex Johanson and O'Connor) to end the period at 3-2.
Anthony Chesrow would push the Imperials advantage back to two with a score early in the second period but the Capitals would respond. A power play goal by Yusa (assisted by Opack and O'Connor at 13:39) and an even strength tally by Opack (assisted by Kautzman and O'Connor at 15:23) evened the game at four heading into the final frame.
The third period belonged to the Capitals. A four-goal outburst, marred only by a couple of Sugar Land scores, vaulted Topeka to an 8-6 victory. Wattles and Kautzman put Topeka up 6-4 and Drew Kelly nabbed the eventual game winner at 15:03 (assisted by John Crusinberry and Steve MacIver). Sugar Land crept to within one with a goal at 16:23 but Kyle Rimbach iced the game with an empty netter (at 19:58 assisted by Andrew Cooley) and the Caps finished off the Showcase with an 8-6 victory.
Topeka will face Sugar Land again this weekend on the road in a three-game series. The games will be streamed live on Fast Hockey (www.fasthockey.com). The team returns to Landon Arena next weekend with a pair of games against St. Louis. Tickets are only $5 and parking is free. For more information about upcoming games, call 785-286-PUCK or visit www.topekacapitals.com.