By Michael Hicks
LOVELAND — First Arizona, then Colorado, and again and again. For two periods Saturday night the Eagles and SunDogs traded power-play goal after power-play goal. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of offensive production.
Leave it to Kevin Ulanski to score an even-strength goal with 12 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the third in what proved to be the game-winner in a 7-5 victory over Arizona at a sold-out Budweiser Events Center on Saturday night.
The teams traded nine power-play goals in the first two periods, the final one coming when Greg Pankewicz scored with 5:55 left in the second period to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead. Ulanski’s goal early in the third put Colorado up two goals — the first time either team had such a lead all night — and Adam Hogg’s unassisted tally 17 seconds later put the game on ice. But it was Ulanski’s goal that provided Colorado the breathing room it needed.
“Coming out of the zone we had 2-on-1 and we were finally able to bury one,” Ulanski said. “We were unfortunate on other ones, but we got an important one there and it ended up being the game-winner. But any of the goals could have been the game-winner tonight.”
Ryan Tobler scored two goals and Greg Pankewicz added a goal and an assist for the Eagles.
Ten of the game’s 12 goals were scored on the man-advantage, tying a Central Hockey League record set by Amarillo and Laredo in 2005.
GOOD THING THEY WON. Saturday’s victory was a good pick-me-up for Colorado. Just one night earlier, the Eagles dropped a 5-3 decision to the visiting Amarillo Gorillas.
Amarillo, which had never beaten Colorado in regulation at the BEC, won despite being outshot 51-24 which included 21 shots by the Eagles in the third period.
Having dominated the game statistically didn’t sit well with the Eagles since it resulted in a rare loss — only the fourth in 22 games this season.
“For sure it did,” Tobler said about Friday’s loss, sitting in the team’s crawl. “We just didn’t play our game at all. Credit the goalie a little bit. It was disappointing for everybody.”
But Saturday night was a different night and a different result.
OFF TO A FAST START. One reason why the Colorado Eagles have been so successful this year could be because of their fast start in games.
Colorado has scored a league-high 32 first-period goals, including two more Saturday night. So is there any reason for the fast starts?
“No,” said Eagles’ head coach Kevin McClelland. “Some games we’ve (scored early) and some we haven’t. First games of the season we got down 2-0. Obviously, in our own building, we want to set the tone on the fore-check, set the tone on the power play and get a lot of shots early. We want to establish those things in our own building.”
When they do that it usually means a win. The Eagles are 8-1 after being tied after the first period, including Saturday’s win over Arizona. They’re 8-1 when leading after 20 minutes and 11-1 when they score first.
POWER PLAYS. Eagles’ center Steve Haddon has scored a point in eight of the last 10 home games, including a goal in Saturday’s win over Arizona. … Riley Nelson, who had a game-high five points in the first meeting this season against the SunDogs, scored just one on Saturday night — an assist on Kevin Ulanski‘s third-period goal. … Eleven of Ryan Tobler’s 13 power-play goals have come at the Budweiser Events Center, including four against Arizona. … Arizona’s starting goalie Marco Emond started 16 games a season ago for the Eagles, going 13-3 with a 3.25 goals against average.
<p>Colorado Eagles defenseman Tom Reimann patrols the ice in front of goalie Morgan Cey. At 18-4, the Eagles own the best record in the CHL, and they have allowed the fewest goals in the Northwest Division.</p>