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Tarantulas Drop Close Battle To Wichita

December 26, 2004 - Central Hockey League (CHL) - Topeka Tarantulas News Release

After all the presents were opened and the holiday had settled in, the Topeka Tarantulas found Santa hadn't placed a win anywhere in their stockings, losing a close game to in-state rival Wichita Thunder 3-2 on a late goal.

The Spiders came out flat-footed at the start of the game, getting hemmed into their own zone by the Wichita first line of Jason Duda, Travis Clayton and Joe Blaznek for the first few minutes, eventually resulting in Clayton's 11th goal of the season at the 10:56 mark of the opening frame.

"I expected us to be sluggish today and we were," said Head Coach Joe Coombs.

Topeka's leading scorer Mike Lukajic evened it up at 11:34 by sneaking a rebound past sprawling Wichita goalie Jamie Vandespyker. The see-saw battle continued with a power play goal from Wichita defenseman Nate Metcalf at 12:10, giving the Thunder a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.

Lukajic evened it up again 1:29 into the second with a four-on-four goal off a feed from Lukas Dora to get his second of the game and 15th of the season, putting him in sole possession of second place in league rookie scoring with 27 points, one point behind Memphis' Phil Aucoin. The game was deadlocked until 17:54 in the third when a goal by Thunder forward Scott Allison gave Wichita the 3-2 lead that would be the final.

The loss brings Topeka's record to 10-17-1 heading to the road for the next eight games. The team's first stop is at Tulsa on Tuesday, when the Spiders will try to improve on their 1-5 record against the Oilers. The puck drops at 7:00.

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