LOVELAND, CO – Score first. Win the game. Steal home ice advantage.
The Colorado Eagles did all three in a dominant game one win over the Allen Americans Friday night to take a 1-0 series lead in the Mountain Division finals.
Led by two goals from defenceman Jake Marto, and a goal and an assist from forward Alex Belzile, the Eagles dominated the Americans in their own barn in the series opener. Belzile’s game-winner midway through the opening frame held up as Allen was never able to get another one past Eagles goaltender Lukas Hafner.
Rookie center Cam Maclise opened the scoring for the Eagles just 3:30 into the game on the power play getting his stick on a shot from the point by Luke Salazar. Allen answered with a power play goal of their own by Greger Hanson with Belzile in the box to knot the game at one. Belzile redeemed himself 1:06 later on a shot from the slot to put the Eagles up for good.
Hafner outplayed ECHL Goaltender of the year Riley Gill in what was a lopsided affair with Colorado outshooting Allen 31-25. While not tested with a lot of good scoring chances by Allen, Hafner was solid, especially in the second period when he made a tremendous glove save while moving laterally across the crease.
Allen had it’s chances however, especially on the power play in the second. A long 5 on 3 man-advantage could have been a turning point, but they mustered only two shots on goal. Their third ranked regular season power play went just one for six in the contest and the Eagles did a great job neutralizing ECHL MVP Chad Costello who managed just a single assist on their lone goal.
- Marto’s goals were his first two of the post-season. He now has seven points in six playoff games after scoring 56 in 69 regular season games and being named to the All-ECHL Second team.
- Eagles Captain Sean Zimmerman is eligible to return to the lineup for game two on Saturday night after serving a three-game suspension for boarding during game three of Colorado’s opening round series against Idaho.
- Belzile’s 11 playoff points have him tied for the league lead with four other players. He’s done it in just six games while the other four have done it in eight. He’s also scored in five straight games.
- Hafner has won five straight contests.
- A couple regular season trends carried over to game one. Colorado was 35-2-1 when scoring first in the regular season, and Allen was 4-15-3 when trailing after one period of play.
- Colorado has won all three games it has played against Allen this season including two in Texas.
- Colorado has also won five in a row since dropping it’s playoff opener at home against Idaho.
- Game two in Allen is Saturday night at 7:05 CT
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