Eagles End First ECHL Regular Season With Shootout Win
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Colorado Eagles and Las Vegas Wranglers prolonged the 2011-12 ECHL regular season about as long as they could, but the Eagles eventually ended the game with a 4-3 shootout win. The victory gave Colorado a record of 38-28-6 in its first season in the ECHL and sent the team into their playoff meeting next week with the Stockton Thunder on a high note.
Despite being out-shot 13-6 in the first frame, the Eagles took a 1-0 lead over the Wranglers into the first intermission. Kevin Ulanski picked up that score at 6:40 by beating Shane Madolora 5-hole from the point on a power play. Colorado’s defense did the rest of the work, getting tested soon after when they were forced to kill over 1:30 of a 5-on-3 advantage for Las Vegas.
The Eagles doubled their lead with another long power-play goal six minutes into the second session when Kyle Peto’s shot fluttered past Madalora. But Colorado soon became penalty-ridden and the Wranglers made them pay on another partial 5-on-3 advantage at 14:27 when Jeff May one-timed a shot past Damien Ketlo from high in the left circle.
Las Vegas dominated the third period, out-shooting the Eagles 22-5 as they controlled much of the play. But just under eight minutes in, Colorado went up 3-1 with another long goal when Luka Vidmar’s shot from the point following a faceoff win found its way under the Wranglers’ netminder.
However, Las Vegas kept coming — just as they did Friday night — tying the game with a pair of goals less than three and a half minutes apart. Chris Francis trimmed Colorado’s lead to 3-2 with another power-play tally at 11:41. Then Adam Miller and Eric Lampe worked a give-and-go just over 14 minutes in to tie the game at 3. Ketlo’s 20 saves in the third period tied the third-most in club history.
The five minute, four-on-four overtime produced plenty of wide open, back-and-forth action between the two offensive-minded clubs, but neither was able to score, sending the game to a shootout.
In the shootout, Colorado’s first two shooters (Joey Sides & Aaron Slattengren) scored, while Ketlo stopped all four of the Wranglers shooters he saw to secure the win.
Colorado will now head to California in preparation for their first ECHL playoff run, beginning on Tuesday in a best-of-five series against the Thunder. Game 2 will be played in Stockton on Wednesday night before the series shifts to Colorado for the final three games (if necessary). A complete schedule can be found at www.ColoradoEagles.com.