BOISE, Idaho – The Colorado Eagles’ ECHL farewell tour rolls on.
With their 1-0 overtime victory over the Idaho Steelheads Thursday night, the Eagles completed a series sweep in the Mountain Division Final and punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals for the second year in a row.
Idaho Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham:
“I thought we played a very good game…I thought the guys battled all night, we generated a lot of offensive chances. We did a better job of tracking pucks deep into the offensive zone to create second and third opportunities, but it just wasn’t meant to be this evening. Give (The Eagles) credit; they are a very good hockey club, well coached…but I thought our guys played very well this evening.”
Bolstered by a standout, shutout performance from goalie Joe Cannata, the Eagles scratched and clawed their way to a win in a game where physicality was plentiful. Cannata made 47 saves against a potent Steelheads offense, nullifying any Idaho scoring effort with calm, collected goaltending. The AHL and ECHL veteran even participated in some of the rough play as well, pouncing on Idaho forward Jack Nevins after Nevins’ stick strategically ended up near Cannata’s nether regions at 11:37 of the first.
Aside from the bruising play, both teams had plenty of scoring chances that were either thwarted by good defense or a hot goaltender. Idaho was shut down early by Colorado’s defensive units; the Steelheads didn’t get their first shot on goal until the 6:40 mark of the first. More noticeably, explosive Idaho forward Steve McParland was corralled to just two shots on goal, getting wrapped up and contended against frequently as he sped towards the net on multiple driving attempts.
Both teams could not capitalize on their power play opportunities, either, as Colorado went 0-5 and Idaho went 0-for-4. Colorado forward Shawn St-Amant had two penalties on the night: a cross-checking minor in the first and holding the stick minor in the second. Idaho forward Max French also had two minor infractions for the game, with a hooking minor coming in the opening stages of the first and a slashing minor towards the middle of the second. Some unique penalties on the night were from Idaho defenseman Joe Faust (closing hand on puck at 18:34 of the first) and Colorado forward Joey Ratelle (head-butting (attempt) double minor at 1:58 of overtime).
The game’s sole goal came at 13:32 of overtime, when Colorado captain Matt Garbowsky connected a pass to center Ryan Harrison for a one-timer that forward Drayson Bowman deflected by Idaho netminder Philippe Desrosiers. It was Bowman’s third tally of the Kelly Cup Playoffs and his first of the second round. Garbowsky earned his third assist of the postseason, while Harrison notched his fifth helper of the playoffs.
Colorado now awaits the winner of the Toledo and Fort Wayne series. Toledo currently has a 2-1 lead in the Central Division Final, with the two teams scheduled to play Games 4 and 5 on Friday and Saturday night.