LOVELAND, Colo. – The Colorado Eagles won their fifth straight game to remain in a first place tie in the Turner Conference, topping the Missouri Mavericks 4-2. A strong first period and several excellent individual performances led the Eagles past the Mavs despite a late push from the visiting team.
The Eagles dominated the first period of play unlike any period in their history, out-shooting the Mavericks 17-1 — setting a new franchise record for fewest shots allowed in a period (the previous low was two). Missouri didn’t get its lone shot on net until 14:55 had elapsed off the clock, and the shot came from team tough-guy Carlyle Lewis…from center ice, no less.
For Colorado, the duo of defenseman Jason Beatty and rookie forward Adam Chorneyko staked the home team to a 2-0 lead, with the defensive defenseman making both plays possible. At 6:26, Beatty made an end-to-end rush down the right wing before making a power move to the net. Robby Nolan stopped his scoring chance, but Chorneyko was able to put home the rebound from the low slot.
The Eagles nearly made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 14:30, but Nolan made two scrambling saves to keep it 1-0; Colorado held a 13:0 edge in shots at that point. The Mavs had their own power play minutes later, but failed to get a single shot on net. And at 18:21, Beatty forced another play in the offensive zone by storming through the neutral zone and pushing the puck deep at the blue line. He followed the disc into the right corner, dug it out and sent a feed into the slot for a Chorneyko one-timer past Nolan.
Colorado out-shot Missouri 10-8 in the second stanza, with Kyle Jones making the most outstanding plays of the period. At 10:35, the All-Star starting netminder stopped a pair of Mavs on a 2-on-1 breakaway, poke-checking the first attempt and stonewalling the second with his left pad.
At 11:33, Beatty nearly made it 3-0 for the Eagles by converting a 2-on-1 break, but the defenseman put the puck past Nolan with a punch out of mid-air, negating the goal. At the other end of the ice, Jones continued to make stellar saves, stopping Ray DiLauro on a breakaway at 13:20.
Colorado grew its lead to 3-0 at 8:26 of the final frame when Steve Haddon put the puck on net from the left midboards for a doorstep deflection by Adam Hogg. That goal would turn out to be the game-winner, fitting since Hogg was the night’s star due to the word play on Groundhog Day and a giveaway of a bobblehead with his likeness. Hogg nearly made it 4-0 half a minute later, but it was ruled that he had kicked the puck past Nolan.
In the waning minutes, Missouri added a pair of power-play goals (by Mike Berry and Bill Vandermeer), the second a 6-on-4 score with an extra attacker on the ice. But Kevin Ulanski iced the game with an empty-net goal with 30 seconds left to account for the final score.
The Eagles head back on the road for another four games — after just completing a season-long, seven game road trip — with a pair of games this weekend against the Odessa Jackalopes.
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