LOVELAND, CO — The defending Kelly Cup Champ Colorado Eagles tallied five goals in the opening frame to shut down the recent momentum of the Rapid City Rush en route to an 8-1 win Saturday night and a series sweep.
With the news that Michael Joly was called up to the AHL before the game things looked promising as the Eagles would be without the league’s leading scorer. Instead, it meant that other members of the Eagles’ roster stepped up in his absence to pepper the net. Colorado lit the lamp five times in the opening period, including four in under four minutes to close out the frame. The first goal came from Jake Marchment at 6:34 who was able to secure a scramble for the puck in front of the Rush net and pocket the rebound by Rush netminder Christian Frey for the early 1-0. Then the onslaught commenced. Emil Romig one-timed a shot top shelf to double the Eagles lead at 2-0 with 5:23 remaining. Matt Garbowsky scored his first of two goals at 14:59 when he had a wide-open lane and powered the puck over Frey’s shoulder for the 3-0 advantage. Jesse Mychan, the team’s second leading scorer, put the Eagles up 4-0 at 17:48 on a 2-on-1 and buried the puck by Frey. The final goal in the scoring flurry came with 1:48 left when Ryan Harrison was able to pick up a rebound attempt and drive home the goal to give the Eagles a dominant 5-0 lead. The goal also sparked continued tensions as the gloves dropped several times over the final 90 seconds leading to the 1st intermission.
Chase Lang looked to spark a rally for the Boys from the Black Hills when he took a nifty backhander over the shoulder of Eagles netminder Joe Cannata at 6:06 cutting the deficit to 5-1. But that would be the lone goal for the visiting division rivals. Collin Bowman matched the goal from Lang at 13:07 with another 2-on-1 opportunity before firing the puck by Frey for the 6-1 lead. Gabriel Verpaelst further padded Colorado’s lead with a shot from the blue line with 80 seconds remaining in the period, and the Eagles would carry that 7-1 advantage into the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Garbowsky became the only Eagle to register a multi-goal night with his second goal, and 11th of the season, with 14:00 left in the game. The goal came six seconds into the Eagles’ only powerplay opportunity when Garbowsky fired a one-timer by Frey for the game’s final tally.
Despite the one-sided final score the Colorado Eagles only held a narrow 30-to-26 edge in shots-on-goal. Rapid City went 0-for-3 on the man advantage while Colorado was able to score on their one opportunity. And considering the storied fierceness of this rivalry, there was only a single penalized fight after the 1st period, which came shortly after the Eagles scored their final goal.
Joe Cannata is credited with the win stopping 25-of-26 shots on the night while Christian Frey suffers the loss stopping 22-of-30 shots faced.
Rapid City Rush: Rapid City wraps up their road trip with a Monday matinee at Utah. Puck drop is scheduled for 1:35 pm MT.
Colorado Eagles: Colorado hits the road to face the Wichita Thunder on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm CT.