LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Colorado Eagles defeated the Las Vegas Wranglers, 6-4, in a wild game at the Orleans Arena. The Eagles built a 6-0 lead in the first half of the contest (with five goals from defensemen), only to watch the Wranglers score four unanswered prior to playing the last 1:40 with a two-man advantage. The win marked the 9th game in a row in which the Eagles have claimed at least a point as they continue their climb up the ECHL standings.
The Eagles played their best period of the season in the first frame, setting a season high for goals in a period by scoring five goals on 15 shots, and taking a 5-0 lead into the first intermission. Kyle Jones was stellar in Colorado’s cage, stopping 13 shots, while Joe Fallon — who entered the game tied with Jones for 2nd in the ECHL in wins — was chased after stopping just five of eight shots in the first 12:30.
The game’s opening goal came just under two minutes in when Patrick Cey worked the puck up the left wall in the offensive zone and Jon Landry’s shot from the left point took an odd hop past Fallon; it was the Eagles’ first shot of the game.
Colorado made it 2-0 midway through the period with a power-play marker when Kevin Ulanski sent a pass from the left midboards to a wide open Kyle Peto in the high slot for the defenseman’s first goal of the season. Then, at 12:30, Michael Forney made it 3-0 on a fast break by taking a pass in the right circle and beating Fallon high to his glove side.
Mitch O’Keefe then replaced Fallon in the Las Vegas net, but he fared no better, allowing the first shot he saw to get past him less than two minutes later. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Jason Beatty took a faceoff win in the left circle of the offensive zone and sent a slap-shot into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season — already matching his career high. The Wranglers then took their timeout, trying everything to stop Colorado’s momentum.
It worked for a while, but with time running out in the period, Landry made it 5-0 with another power-play goal when he put home a Chad Costello rebound from the low slot with one second remaining in the frame; that meant that Landry scored on the Eagles first and final shots of the period.
Colorado made it 6-0 at 11:34 of the second period when Forney circled below the Wranglers’ goal and found Aaron Schneekloth in the high slot for another goal from an Eagles defenseman. But Las Vegas held the majority of the play in the period — out-shooting Colorado 22-5 — and was able to get some late life when Adam Miller scored a pair of goals to make it 6-2 heading into the second intermission.
His first goal came after Chris Francis held the puck in at the right point, then found Miller, who skated through the high slot and beat Jones at 15:41. His second score was similar as he skated through the left circle before snapping a puck into the twine in the second stanza’s final minute.
The Wranglers continued their inspired play in the third period, netting two more tallies in the first 5:19. Just 55 seconds in, Scott Campbell took a shot from the left point that was deflected past Jones by Eric Lampe — the league’s leading goal-scorer — on a power play. Then Mike Madill made it four unanswered for the Wranglers when his shot from the point made it through traffic and into the Eagles’ net.
Colorado found their equilibrium shortly thereafter and was able to clamp down defensively, but with 1:40 left in regulation, Las Vegas was awarded a power play, which became a two-man advantage when they pulled O’Keefe. Jones and the Eagles held on, however, and secured the win by stifling the Wranglers’ golden opportunity.
The Eagles will take on the Bakersfield Condors Wednesday night in California.