BOISE, Idaho – The Colorado Eagles and Idaho Steelheads met in the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row, and the fourth time in six years. This year, however, was different in many ways, with the foremost reason being that it was the first time these two teams battled each other in the second round (all other series’ have occurred in round one).
Idaho, perhaps gassed from their seven-game series in round one against the Allen Americans, suffered four consecutive losses — two of which occurred after scoreless regulations in Games 1 and 4 went to overtime — as their defense struggled and their offensive firepower was neutralized, both on the ice and off. Idaho scored just four goals in four games against the Eagles, with the Steelheads’ 60-point scorer Justin Parizek out for the series after being placed on reserve (May 2).
Now, after a hard-fought battle with Idaho, Colorado returns to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in as many years.
“This was a very tough series,” said Colorado Head Coach Aaron Schneekloth. “To get a sweep say a lot, but it definitely doesn’t indicate how close the games were and how hard each individual game was for our group.”
“The guys are happy,” Colorado forward and regular-season goals leader Michael Joly stated. “We can’t ask for better…it was a team win. Our goalie (Joe Cannata) was unbelievable, and that’s what we need. We need that from every guy, and we battled ‘til the end. It was hard, with the overtime and everything, but we just stuck to it.”
Colorado was no doubt bolstered by playoffs goal-leader J.C. Beaudin, who tallied four goals in two games and adding one assist in Game 2 in the Mountain Division Final. Beaudin also has eight goals and four assists for twelve postseason points. As Colorado awaits either the Toledo Walleye or Fort Wayne Komets as their next opponent, Beaudin is confident that the unfamiliarity of the Central Division won’t be a factor in round three.
“I think I played Fort Wayne once (in the regular season),” Beaudin reflected. “Honestly, we’re ready no matter which team it is. We’ll be prepared, and it’s going to be a good series, for sure.”
Other notable quotes after the series-clinching Game 4 for the Colorado Eagles:
Coach Schneekloth had this to say about he and Idaho Head Coach Neil Graham being Calgary natives, starting with their teams as players, moving into assistant roles, and eventually becoming head coaches of their respective squads:
“Our careers haven’t really matched up until we both got into coaching. I have had a lot of conversations with Neil over the years, and I have a lot of respect for his team and how well he’s done.”
Michael Joly, on his only goal of the series in Game 3 and playing against his former QMJHL teammate, Philippe Desrosiers:
“I think we had a lot of chances. You can’t score every game in a series like that; it’s more of a team thing. And, I think Desrosiers on the other side played…no, BOTH goalies actually played a hell of a hockey game (in Game 4).”
Colorado Head Coach Aaron Schneekloth
Colorado forward Michael Joly
Colorado rookie forward J.C. Beaudin
Did You Know?
Colorado currently has seven players on their playoff roster from the Canadian province of Quebec, the most a team has in the 2018 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs.
The team with the next highest number?
The Wichita Thunder, with six players who hail from “La Belle Province.”