PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Colorado Eagles defeated the Arizona Sundogs, 4-1, in the first of three games in as many days at the Tim’s Toyota Center. Colorado’s third line accounted for two of their goals and Riley Nelson netted the other pair, powering the Eagles into a first place tie in the Turner Conference. The score could have easily been more lopsided if not for the work of Arizona goaltender Levente Szuper who stopped 38 of 42 shots; Kyle Jones was also stellar, stopping 34 of 35 for Colorado.
The teams played an evenly matched, fast-paced first period. Arizona held a slight edge in shots (11-8) and had the period’s only power play. Despite the good flow, neither team scored, as both netminders were strong in net.
Both goalies were strong again in the second period, but unlike in the first, they were not impenetrable. At 4:38, Adam Chorneyko got the scoring started as the Eagles’ third line continued to click since his return to the lineup. The rookie forward took a feed in the low slot from Dan Sullivan below the goal line to make it 1-0. The Sundogs tied the game up at 15:31 with a power-play goal when Patrick Schafer knocked home a loose puck from the crease.
But with 27 seconds left in the second stanza, Colorado converted on its first power play of the night to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. On the play, Kevin Ulanski threw the puck on net from the left wing boards and Nelson deflected it into the cage as Szuper tried to get back into position after going behind the net to play the puck.
Nelson made it 3-1 with his second goal in a row just 32 seconds into the third period. The Eagles’ captain skated in on Szuper on a breakaway and had his first shot from the slot stopped, but was able to put home his own rebound from the left side of the crease. Then at 9:43, at the tail end of another strong shift for Colorado’s third line, Sullivan made it 4-1 with a shot from between the circles.
The two teams will play again Saturday night at 7:05 and Sunday afternoon at 4:05.