LOVELAND, Colo. – In their first ever visit to the Budweiser Events Center, the Quad City Mallards scored four unanswered goals to claim a 4-3 overtime win against the Colorado Eagles in Game 1 of the Central Hockey League’s Turner Conference Opening Round best-of-5 series.
The Eagles out-shot the Mallards 18-7 in the first period — aided by a 5:1 power play ratio — but they couldn’t get a puck past David Brown and the Quad City defense.
Things tightened up in the second period, as the Eagles out-shot the Mallards 8-5, but Colorado was able to find the back of the net on a quarter of their shots to take a 2-0 lead into the third period. Matt Glasser got the game’s opening goal at 14:05 of the second stanza when he slammed home a shot into the top left corner of the cage from the hash marks.
A minute after Colorado broke the stalemate, Kyle Jones kept them on top by stopping Joe Blaznek on a 2-on-1 break. And with just 54 seconds left in the second frame, Kevin Ulanski circled behind the net and set up regular season MVP Riley Nelson for a goal from between the hash marks.
The Eagles stretched their lead to 3-0 at 8:13 of the third period when Dan Sullivan took a turnover in the neutral zone and sent a pass to Adam Chorneyko entering the offensive zone. The CHL All-Rookie Team forward performed a toe-drag before sending a pin-point shot into the top left corner — knocking the water bottle off the top of the net — on a beautiful goal.
But the Mallards stormed back with three unanswered goals — the final coming with just seconds left — to force the game into overtime. Obi Aduba got Quad City’s first goal at 13:03 on a goal that was initially waved off by referee Travis Smith when Aaron Schneekloth swept the puck off the goal line. The goal judge, however, had turned on the goal light, leading to a conference that ended up with the Mallards getting on the board.
Less than a minute later, Zac Pearson trimmed Colorado’s lead to 3-2 when his shot from the right point made it through traffic and past Jones. With momentum fully in the Mallards’ favor, Eric Giosa knotted the score at 3 from the low slot with just 7.8 seconds left in regulation as Quad City worked with an extra attacker.
Quad City was called for two separate penalties early in the overtime period, giving Colorado several consecutive minutes to work with an extra man, including 1:03 of a 5-on-3 advantage. However, the Eagles’ power play again couldn’t convert — making it 0-for-8 on the night — and the Mallards struck as Zac Pearson exited the penalty box to form a 3-on-0 rush that Brandon Marino converted into a game-winning goal at 4:50 of the overtime session.
Game 2 of the series will be Saturday night at 7:05 (MST) at the Budweiser Events Center.