LOVELAND, CO – It was a productive and almost perfect week for the Colorado Eagles.
They took two out of three games against division rival Utah, including a single point in an overtime loss on Friday night at home.
While the OT loss stung a little, the week also saw forward Jesse Mychan break out of his scoring slump by lighting the lamp three times, giving him eight goals on the year.Goaltender Lukas Hafner also got a much-needed start and was strong between the pipes Saturday night in Utah. Hafner has been stuck as the third goalie on the depth chart while Joe Cannata and Sam Brittain have been getting the majority of starts. Cannata was particularly brilliant in Wednesday’s 1-0 shootout win.
Colorado also took over the overall ECHL points lead 46-43 over Eastern Conference-leading Florida. The Everblades do have three games in hand as the league shuts down for its holiday break.
Colorado’s meteoric rise to the top of the league standings can be attributed to the fact they’ve garnered points in 16 out of their last 17 games dating back to November 10. Quite a feat for the defending Kelly Cup Champions who returned only six players from their championship squad of a year ago.
As good as they’ve been this first half of the season, they have the potential to be even better after the holiday break. Sure, forward Michael Joly leads the league in goal-scoring with 20 goals in 25 games. And former NHL’er Drayson Bowman has 28 points. Matt Garbowsky and Matt Register each have 26 points. But it’s the aforementioned Mychan who could be the difference in this teams quest to repeat as Kelly Cup Champions in what will be their last year in the ECHL.
Two years ago, Mychan tied for the league lead with 32 goals for the Eagles in just 63 games. Last year he had 23 goals in 34 games before leaving to play in Europe for the second half of the season. Entering this past week he had but five goals on the season. So what happened?
According to Mychan, it’s about gaining confidence and playing his style of hockey.
“Bouncing around here to Europe and back to here the confidence thing is there in the back of my mind. You get lost in the different styles of game and suddenly you’re not putting pucks in the net like you’re used to. Here I need to be a big winger, a power forward and have to establish it again,” said Mychan earlier this week.
Mychan got bumped up to the team’s top line versus Utah when Joly was recalled to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
“It definitely hasn’t been the start to the year I was looking for, but playing with Drayson who is a legitimate NHL winger and Garbowsky who has the hockey smarts of an NHL’er, it’s going to help your game,” Mychan said. ”I’ve been given every opportunity here and I’m super grateful for that. I’m going to continue to establish myself and help this team moving forward.”
Given his past scoring prowess, and his hot stick this past week, it would appear the big winger is gaining the confidence he was looking for which could mean bad news for the rest of the ECHL moving forward.
Colorado returns to the ice on Friday night in Rapid City for back to back road games against the Rush.