Tuesday, February 16; Goaltending Shines; Eagles Lose 1-0 in OT
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Colorado Eagles lost a 1-0 overtime contest to their Northern Conference rival Rapid City Rush as the teams met for the second time in three days. After a wide-open, 7-6, shootout game on Sunday that saw each team pull its starting goalie, the netminders stole the show by taking shutouts into overtime.
Danny Battochio stopped 36 of 36 shots in the win, while Andrew Penner stopped 38 of 38 in regulation before being beaten by the only shot for either team in overtime; Derek LeBlanc picked up the game’s only goal 42 seconds into the extra frame. Coincidentally enough, the last time the Eagles were shutout was in Rapid City’s first ever home game, Nov. 29, 2008, when Miguel Beaudry stopped 27 shots in a 4-0 victory.
The first period between the top two teams in the Northern Conference played out just as evenly as one might suspect, with each goaltender stopping all 10 shots faced.
If it was possible, the second period saw even better play from the between the pipes as both goalies came up with several stellar stops (12 total saves for Battochio, 18 for Penner).
The Rush had two power play chances in the third — and a 5:2 edge in power plays in the game — but Penner and the Colorado penalty-killers continued to blank the Rush as the Eagles actually out-shot Rapid City 14-10 in the third stanza.
As overtime commenced, the puck ended up behind the Eagles’ net where Gio Flamminio knocked Aaron Scheekloth off the puck to the left of the cage before Les Reaney fed LeBlanc who circled between the circles and beat Penner to end the affair.
Friday, February 19; RiverKings Continue Strong Play Against Eagles
LOVELAND, Colo. – The Mississippi RiverKings continued to have the Colorado Eagles’ number as they won, 4-2, at the Budweiser Events Center. The Eagles are 0-4-0 at home (and just 1-6-2 overall) against the RiverKings over the past three seasons in the regular season.
Like Arizona one week ago, Mississippi made the most of their chances (scoring four goals on just 23 shots) while Colorado couldn’t convert enough despite throwing 32 shots on net. Former-Eagle Tim Boron made 30 saves on the night, and had help from his goalposts as the Eagles hit iron four different times.
The Eagles out-shot the RiverKings 11-8 on the way to a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Ed McGrane got the scoring started at 12:07 by converting on a tic-tac-toe play from the second line as the puck went quickly from the left circle, to the slot, to the right circle for a one-timer inside the left post.
Each team tossed nine shots on net in the second period, and Ryan Held continued his hot streak by tying the game up at 1 with a goal at 13:24. Held picked up his team-leading 24th goal of the season — and fourth in three games — by putting home a Ken Davis rebound from the right side of the crease.
Mississippi went on top 50 seconds into the final frame when Kevin Truelson scored on a blast from the point for a 4-on-3 power-play goal. Stephen Margeson then made it 3-1 at 5:25 when his shot from in front of the Eagles’ bench snuck through the pads of Andrew Penner.
The Eagles’ first line cut the Mississippi lead back down to one under a minute and a half later, when a trailing Riley Nelson put home the rebound off a Kevin Ulanski and Ryan Tobler rush. But Colorado couldn’t beat Boron — who made several strong saves — to get the tying goal midway through the period when they had an extended 5-on-3 power play.
Bobby Chaumont would score the game’s final goal with 1:41 left when he converted from the slot just as his own team’s two-man advantage was expiring.
Saturday, February 20; Eagles De-Throne ‘Kings at BEC, 6-3
LOVELAND, Colo. – The Colorado Eagles took a chunk out of the Mississippi RiverKings’ regular season dominance with a 6-3 victory at the Budweiser Events Center. The home win was the Eagles’ first against the RiverKings in the regular season since 2008 after Mississippi took the first game of the weekend set the previous night.
The Eagles doubled up their goal total from the previous night in the first period of play, taking a 4-0 lead into the first intermission. Aaron Schneekloth got the scoring started 3:13 in with a power-play goal after Kevin Truelson sent his own rebound back to him for a goal from the right slot.
The league’s two leading scorers then teamed up to put the Eagles up 2-0 at the 10 minute mark when Kevin Ulanski and Riley Nelson worked a give-and-go out of the right corner before the Eagles’ captain beat Tim Boron from between the hash marks.
Then, at 14:07, the first line struck again when they entered the offensive zone, and Nelson pulled up in the high slot before finding Ulanski for a one-timer from the right circle. And just 37 seconds later, the second line got into the act as Ryan McLeod sent a backhand pass from the doorstep to Ed McGrane at the left side of the net to draw Boron out of position for a tap-in.
Mark Sibbald began the second period between the pipes for the RiverKings and stopped all 10 of Colorado’s shots in the frame. And at 12:42, Louis Dumont got Mississippi on the board after he was impeded on a shorthanded break and awarded a penalty shot; he beat Mike Mole 5-hole on the shot.
Tempers flared just over 15 minutes into the middle frame and a small brawl ensued. Mississippi ended up with a 5-on-3 power play when all of the penalties were assessed, and Dumont ended up getting a second goal to cut Colorado’s lead in half when his cross-crease pass deflected off of Schneekloth’s stick and past Mole.
The RiverKings continued to mount a comeback as they trimmed Colorado’s lead to 4-3 with a goal 6:05 into the third period. On the play, Darrell Stoddard one-timed a shot past Mole’s blocker from between the circles as Dumont fed him a pass from atop the right circle.
The game continued to be tense until the final minute of play when McGrane scored a pair of empty-net goals for a hat trick. It was his third hat trick as an Eagle, with the previous two coming in the 2006-07 season.
With the win and Rapid City’s regulation loss, Colorado moved within three points of the Northern Conference lead. Their next game will be Wednesday, Feb. 24 against the Amarillo Gorillas at the Budweiser Events Center.
The Week Ahead
Wednesday, February 24; Eagles, Gorillas Meet For Final Time This Season Colorado and Amarillo will finish their eight-game season series on Wednesday when the Gorillas travel to the Budweiser Events Center for the fourth time. So far this season, the Eagles are 6-1-0 against the Gorillas, including 3-0-0 at home. The Eagles have out-scored the Gorillas 39-21 this season, including 22-10 at the BEC. All-time, Colorado is 15-1-2 at home against Amarillo with a scoring margin of 105-49. Wednesday’s game will be televised on Altitude Sports & Entertainment.
Friday, February 26; Sundogs Make Final Trip of Season to BEC Arizona will make its final trip of the season to Colorado as the two teams meet for the fourth time this season. This will not, however, be the last time they see each other as the Eagles will finish the regular season with three games in Arizona. The Eagles dropped the only previous home game against the ‘Dogs this season, but all-time, they’re 10-2-0 at the BEC. The 2008 CHL champs enter the week tied for last place in the Southern Conference, but they’ve won three of their past five games, dropping one in overtime to Allen.
Saturday, February 27 & Sunday, February 28; Eagles, Rush Continue Battle For Conference Crown The Eagles and Rush will square off again in possibly the most pivotal weekend series of the season. Colorado enters the week three points behind Rapid City in the Northern Conference, with this weekend’s set representing the final regular season meetings between the rivals. Saturday’s game will take place in Rapid City, while Sunday’s game (at the BEC) is a makeup for the postponed home game on Dec. 26th. Sunday’s game will also be broadcast on Altitude Sports & Entertainment. So far this season, the teams have alternated wins; Rapid City won the previous meeting, 1-0, in overtime.
CHEAP TRICK – Ed McGrane capped a strong week (6-1-7) with his third hat trick as an Eagle, including the game-winner and two empty-netters that iced Saturday’s game against the RiverKings. The three-goal night pushed McGrane into the team lead in goals with 27. Both of McGrane’s previous CHL hat tricks came in the 2006-07 season. It was the 26th hat trick in franchise history. BAD BOYS – Colorado accumulated 68 penalty minutes in Saturday’s game against Mississippi, with 53 of them coming courtesy of Fraser Filipic (27) and Alex Penner (26). Filipic picked up three major penalties in the game as both players garnered game misconducts. Entering the week, Filipic leads the CHL in penalty minutes with 236, and Penner ranks third with 209. U LEAD, WE’LL FOLLOW – Kevin Ulanski’s consistency this season has put him atop several league and team standings. “Uly” leads the league in points (85) — 11 ahead of the next non-Eagle — and plus/minus (+32), and the Eagles in assists (59), power-play assists (22), short-handed assists (5), game-winning goals (6), special teams points (37) and multi-point games (27). In fact, 70 of his 85 points (82%) have come in multi-point games. DOMINATING D-MAN – Aaron Schneekloth is following up a 2008-09 season that saw him named a member of the All-CHL Team and the league’s “Most Outstanding Defenseman,” with an even stronger 2009-10. An All-Star starter this season, Schneekloth leads all d-men in points (48, nine points ahead of Alex Dunn in 2nd), goals (21), plus/minus (+27), power-play goals (11) and short-handed goals (tied with 1). WITHIN REACH – Colorado enters the week three points behind the Rapid City Rush who they’ll play on Saturday and Sunday. Before then, the Eagles will be taking on the Amarillo Gorillas (Wednesday) and Arizona Sundogs (Friday) and could be caught-up in time for the weekend showdown. So far this season, the Eagles are 6-1-0 against the Gorillas and 2-1-0 against the ‘Dogs. All-time at home, the Eagles are a combined 25-3-2 against those two opponents.