Topeka Pilots

The Topeka Pilots are a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's South Division. The team's home arena is the 7,773-seat Landon Arena in Topeka, Kansas.

Topeka Pilots
CityTopeka, Kansas
LeagueNAHL
DivisionSouth
Founded2003
Home arenaLandon Arena
ColorsNavy blue, red, white
              
Owner(s)Loretto Sports Ventures
General managerSimon Watson (2018–19)
Head coachSimon Watson (2018–19)
MediaTopeka Capital-Journal
KSNT-TV 27
WIBW-TV 13
KTKA ABC
KTMJ-FOX
Franchise history
2003–2004Lone Star Cavalry
2004–2007Santa Fe RoadRunners
2007–2018Topeka RoadRunners
2018–presentTopeka Pilots

History

Lone Star Cavalry

The Lone Star Cavalry were granted an expansion franchise in the America West Hockey League in March 2003. They stayed in the league when it merged with the North American Hockey League for the 2003–04 season. The Cavalry played out of the Blue Line Ice Complex in North Richland Hills, Texas and served the immediate "Mid-Cities" area of Metro Dallas-Fort Worth. The Cavalry were part of the NAHL’s new South Division along with the Central Texas Blackhawks, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Springfield (MO) Spirit, Texas Tornado, Texarkana Bandits, and Wichita Falls Rustlers.

Santa Fe RoadRunners

After financial difficulties caused the Cavalry’s home rink, the Blue Line Ice Complex, to close, the Cavalry were left without a home. Due to this and other factors, the Cavalry ended up being sold and relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The team was granted membership on September 20, 2004, and began play on September 25, 2004, under their new identity as the Santa Fe RoadRunners. The Santa Fe RoadRunners played out of the Genoveva Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe. In their inaugural season in New Mexico, the RoadRunners played in the South Division, against the Central Texas Marshals, Springfield (IL) Jr. Blues, Springfield Spirit, Texarkana Bandits, Texas Tornado, and the Wichita Falls Wildcats, finishing with a 33-15-8 record, good for 3rd place in the division. The following season they finished dead last in the South Division behind the Tornado, Bandits, Jr. Blues, and the Wildcats. The third and final season in Santa Fe saw the RoadRunners finishing with a 41-17-4 record for 2nd place in a South Division which consisted of the St. Louis Bandits, Texas Tornado, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Wichita Falls Wildcats, and the Alaska Avalanche.

Topeka RoadRunners

On February 26, 2007, the team announced their move to Topeka, Kansas, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, due to claims of poor attendance. Santa Fe ranked 17th out of 18 teams in attendance.[1]

The move to Topeka was initiated by a grass roots effort, led by hockey fans from Topeka. In their first season in Topeka, 2007–08, they were third in league attendance. That season the team won the NAHL South Division and South Division Playoffs. They finished in third place at the Robertson Cup competition. The 2008–09 season saw the RoadRunners finishing fourth in league attendance and 2nd in the South Division. The team lost in the second round of the South Division playoffs. In 2009–10 The RoadRunners finished first in the South Division, and they were second in attendance. The 2010–11 season saw the RoadRunners claim the NAHL President's Cup as the league's regular season champions.

On January 7, 2016, the RoadRunners fired long-tenured head coach and general manager Scott Langer, who had been with the team since their days as the Cavalry and the head coach since their first season in Santa Fe. He was hired immediately after the season ended by the Aberdeen Wings. Former RoadRunner player and assistant coach Josh Kamrass was hired as his replacement.[2] On November 24, 2017, assistant coach Justin DeMartino took over as an interim head coach, so that Kamrass could spend more time at home and took a front office job with the organization overseeing all the ownership's teams including their Tier III teams.[3][4][5]

Topeka Pilots

On April 18, 2018, owners of the franchise since 2009, Barbara & Donald Stone, sold the franchise to Loretto Sports Ventures, a company owned by Lamar Hunt Jr., that also operates the Kansas City Mavericks in the ECHL.[6] In the same press conference, Hunt announced the new head coach and general manager as Simon Watson for the 2018–19 season. The new ownership also announced the team would be rebranded[7] and was renamed the Topeka Pilots on June 5, 2018.[8]

Season-by-season records

SeasonGPWLOTLPtsGFGAPIMFinishPlayoffs
Lone Star Calvary
2003–045628226621581711,5045th, SouthDid not qualify
Santa Fe Roadrunners
2004–055633185712011631,6023rd of 7, SouthLost in 1st Round
2005–065824286541822051,4185th of 5, SouthDid not qualify
2006–076241174862211541,2402nd of 6, SouthLost in 1st Round
Topeka RoadRunners
2007–085839118862421371,5091st of 6, SouthLost in Robertson Cup Semifinal
2008–095842115892041381,5452nd of 4, SouthLost in 2nd Round
2009–10584495932541471,5001st of 5, SouthLost in 2nd Round
2010–115843123892371461,7061st of 6, SouthLost in Div. Finals
2011–126038184801971521,2472nd of 7, SouthLost in Div. Finals
2012–1360391478519014613432nd of 6, SouthLost in Div. Semifinals
2013–1460391568418012210902nd of 7, SouthLost in Robertson Cup Semifinals
2014–156039156841991408372nd of 8, SouthLost in Robertson Cup Quarterfinals
2015–1660342427019015410443rd of 6, SouthLost in Div. Finals
2016–1760213454717622813227th of 7, SouthDid not qualify
2017–1860173943812823312176th of 6, SouthDid not qualify
2018–196023298541582109335th of 6, SouthDid not qualify

Playoffs

  • 2005
First Round – Texarkana Bandits defeated Santa Fe Roadrunners, 3-games-to-1
  • 2007
First Round – Texas Tornado defeated Santa Fe Roadrunners, 3-games-to-2
  • 2008
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Texas Tornado, 3-games-to-0
Division Final – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Fairbanks Ice Dogs, 3-games-to-2
Robertson Cup Round Robin – Topeka RoadRunners (2-1) - Advance to Semifinal, (W, 3-2 vs. Phantoms; W, 4-2 vs. Blizzard; L, 2-5 vs. Bandits)
Robertson Cup Semifinal Game – Mahoning Valley Phantoms defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 5-2
  • 2009
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Wichita Falls Wildcats, 3-games-to-2
Division Finals – St. Louis Bandits defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-1
  • 2010
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Springfield Jr. Blues, 3-games-to-1
Division Finals – St. Louis Bandits defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-2
  • 2011
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Wichita Falls Wildcats, 3-games-to-2
Division Finals – Amarillo Bulls defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-2
  • 2012
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Texas Tornado, 3-games-to-0
Division Finals – Amarillo Bulls defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-1
  • 2013
Division Semifinals – Texas Tornado defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-0
  • 2014
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, 3-games-to-0
Division Finals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Amarillo Bulls, 3-games-to-2
Robertson Cup Semifinals – Austin Bruins defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 2-games-to-1
  • 2015
First Round – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Wichita Falls Wildcats, 3-games-to-1
Robertson Cup Quarterfinals – Lone Star Brahmas defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-1
  • 2016
Division Semifinals – Topeka RoadRunners defeated Lone Star Brahmas, 3-games-to-1
Division Finals – Wichita Falls Wildcats defeated Topeka RoadRunners, 3-games-to-0

Players

Team captains

  • Eric Trax: 2003–04 Lone Star Cavalry
  • Andrew Johnson: 2004–05 Santa Fe RoadRunners
  • Brandon Vossberg: 2005–06 Santa Fe RoadRunners
  • John Stoddard: 2006–07 Santa Fe RoadRunners and 2007–08 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Matt Hartmann: 2008–09 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Kurtis Anton: 2009–10 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Michael Hill / Jordan Davis: 2010–11 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Chris Bond: 2011–12 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Drew Kariofiles: 2012–13 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Jared Tafoya: 2013–14 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Mike Gornall: 2014–15 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Cam Strong / Dominic Lutz: 2015–16 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Marshall Bowery: 2016–17 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Nick Granowicz / Jake Rosenbaum / Nigel Nelson: 2017–18 Topeka RoadRunners
  • Brenden Rons: 2018–19 Topeka Pilots

Honored members

Retired numbers: The Topeka RoadRunners have officially retired two numbers in their franchise history, the 11 of forward and team captain John Stoddard, and the 21 of Peter Halash.

On January 6, 2014, Topeka Roadrunner Peter Halash died in a car wreck. The Roadrunners team had a jersey retirement ceremony before a game against the Springfield Jr. Blues on March 23, 2014 where all of his family and friends came to remember the life of Peter Halash.

Alumni

The RoadRunners have had a number of alumni move on to NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III, ACHA Division I and II, higher levels of junior ice hockey, and professional ice hockey, including:

References

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