LOVELAND, CO – The Colorado Eagles are one step closer and just one win away from the Western Conference Finals.
Led by dynamic forward Alex Belzile’s two goals and one assist, and linemate Shawn St-Amant’s three helpers, Colorado beat the two-time defending Kelly Cup champion Allen American’s by a final score of 4-2 and took a three games to none lead in their best-of-seven Mountain Division Final series.
Belzile continues to score at a torrid pace, now totaling 10g and 7a for 17 points in just 8 playoff games. ECHL scoring champion and three-time league MVP Chad Costello managed to score his first of the playoffs for Allen, but after averaging 1.69 points per game in the regular season on a league-leading 122 points, has managed just 8 points in 8 games and is a -5.
In a sloppy game that featured numerous turnovers by both teams, none was more critical than a third period gaff by Allen defenseman Michael Brodzinski. With the score knotted at two after Costello’s powerplay goal in the first minute of the period, Brodzinski attempted a cross-ice pass in his own zone which ended up right on the tape of Eagles forward Luke Salazar. Salazar made no mistake, freezing ECHL Goaltender of the year Riley Gill with some slick stick handling, and fired home the game-winner with 7:01 left in frame. Belzile would add his league-leading 10th of the playoffs into an empty net to close out the scoring in front of a raucous home crowd at the Budweiser Events Center.
Allen was effective on the powerplay however, scoring on 2 of 6 opportunities, but struggled to match the Eagles speed and transition game for long stretches of 5 on 5 play. Colorado finished 1 for 4 on the powerplay and outshot the Americans 30-27 in the game.
- Colorado Eagles President and General Manager Chris Stewart was named ECHL GM of the year Wednesday afternoon in his rookie season calling the player/personnel shots. The award is determined by a vote of ECHL coaches.
- Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic took in the game Wednesday night. This is the first season the Eagles have been the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Avalanche and AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
- Eagles goaltender Lukas Hafner continues to shine between the pipes, winning his 7th consecutive start and has posted a 2.29 GAA in those 7 wins.
- Belzile has scored in 7 straight playoff games, tying the longest such streak during the regular season when Toledo forward Tyson Spink scored 10 goals in a seven-game stretch late in February.
- Both teams killed off critical 5-on-3 powerplays early in the first.
- Colorado has outscored Allen 13-5 through the first three games of the series.
- ECHL Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Ernst watched the game from the press box. Ernst is responsible for the day-to-day operations of hockey operations and the league’s officiating department.
- The Eagles will look for the sweep tonight at the BEC. Puck drop is at 7:05 MT.