By JP Puma
ALLEN, Texas – After beating the best team in the Turner Conference at home on New Year’s Eve, the fireworks continued for Colorado as they blew out the top team in the entire league at home, 11-6, to start 2011. The 11 goals, and 17 combined, both tied franchise highs, while Kevin Ulanski scored a shorthanded hat trick and became just the third player in team history to score four goals in a game.
The teams combined for eight goals in a fast and furious first frame (tying a Colorado franchise record for combined goals in a period). The Eagles scored five goals on 10 shots, while the Americans took advantage of Colorado penalties to tally their three markers.
The scoring started early when Kyle Peto sent the puck toward the net from the left point and had it deflected into the net by Riley Nelson just 18 seconds into the game. The Eagles made it 2-0 at 5:23 off a faceoff win in the left circle of the offensive zone when Jason Beatty scored his first goal of the season with a shot from the left point.
At 7:32, Bruce Graham took the puck from the left wing to the slot, fought off Matt Hanson as he backed into the slot, spun and beat Andrew Penner as the referee held up his arm for a delayed penalty call — negating a potential power play for Allen. It would matter little as the Americans’ top-ranked power play unit would score on its next two chances to keep pace with Colorado.
Allen would tie the game at 2 at 11:58 when Justin DaCosta sent the puck on net from the left point where it was deflected on the doorstep by Nino Musitelli, to a wide open Graham at the right side of the net for his second goal of the period.
The Eagles went back on top at 13:23 when Steve Haddon won a footrace down the right wing and had his cross-slot pass attempt to Matt Glasser deflect off the skate of David Nimmo, beating Scott Campbell top-shelf. And just 33 seconds later, Colorado made it 4-2 while shorthanded when Nelson drove the net allowing space for Ulanski to score from the hashmarks.
But on that same Allen power-play, Graham returned the favor to Musitelli by setting him up for a goal from the slot, trimming Colorado’s lead back to 1. Just as the scoring started early, the Eagles kept it up late when Nelson found Ulanski again for a cross-slot feed with just 19 seconds left in the first period.
The pace slowed in the second period with the only goal in the second stanza belonging to Colorado. The team’s combined for even more shots than in the first period, but the play was more controlled and both netminders made some great saves.
Haddon made it 6-3 with a power-play goal 5:09 into the second period after a Peto shot from the right point was deflected on the doorstep to the Haddon at the left side of the crease. Two minutes later, Penner stopped Judd Blackwater on a shorthanded breakaway, only to be matched by Campbell’s efforts at the opposite end; the Americans’ goalie made a series of strong stops on the same power play, and denied Haddon of a third goal with a windmill stop at the left post on a Colorado 3-on-1 rush 13 minutes in.
After the teams caught their breath in the second period, the third saw another eight combined goals. Graham cut Colorado’s lead to 6-4 just 56 seconds into the final frame, giving himself a hat trick on the night. But 40 seconds later, Ulanski matched him when Nelson sent a diagonal pass through the neutral zone, springing him on a shorthanded breakaway. And just 15 seconds later, he notched his fourth goal of the game — the third shorthanded — with another breakaway goal against Campbell.
Despite Allen’s strong offensive numbers, Penner continued to make strong saves in the third period, denying an odd-man rush with a post-to-post stop moments later. But at 3:49, Colton Yellow Horn converted a 3-on-1 rush to make it 8-5.
The Eagles, however, were awarded 1:47 of 5-on-3 play midway through the period, and Daymen Rycroft made it 9-5 with a sharp angle shot from the left wing. But 18 seconds later, David Stratham got that goal back for the Americans with a shorthanded goal by putting home his own rebound after the initial shot fluttered off of Penner’s glove.
That would be Allen’s final goal on the night, however, and the Eagles would add two more before the final horn. Dan Sullivan put home a Haddon rebound from the doorstep at 14:28. And while working another two-man advantage, Peto made it 11-6 with a blast from atop the right circle.
The Eagles will look for their third win in as many days, in as many cities, when they travel to North Richland Hills, Texas to take on the Brahmas Sunday.
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