LOVELAND, CO – The Colorado Eagles scored seven goals in the first period to pace the way to a 9-4 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Saturday. The seven goals tied a team record for goals scored in a single period, as Colorado had previously scored seven goals in a one period against the Rapid City Rush on November 11, 2008. Forward Shawn St-Amant notched two goals and one assist, while fellow forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel registered a goal and three assists in the winning effort. 13 of Colorado’s 14 skaters collected at least one point on the night, while six Eagles posted a multi-point game.
Colorado’s record-setting first period kicked off just 1:19 into the contest when forward Josh Nicholls fielded an outlet pass from defenseman Matt Register and raced down the slot, beating Wichita goalie Kent Patterson and giving the Eagles the 1-0 lead. Just 18 seconds later, defenseman Michael Sdao barged down the left wing, maneuvered between the circles and laced a wrist shot into the back of the net to extend the Eagles edge to 2-0.
Wichita would find an answer on the power play when forward David Friedmann collected a cross-slot pass and wired the puck past Eagles goaltender Clarke Saunders to cut Colorado’s lead to 2-1 at the 7:09 mark of the first period.
It would only take 2:45 for the Eagles to strike back when St.-Amant blistered a shot to light the lamp on a 3-on-1 rush in the midst of a 5-on-3 power play to make it a 3-1 Colorado edge. With only 28 seconds having elapsed, Colorado would add its fourth goal of the night, as forward Mitch Holmberg converted on the back-half of the 5-on-3 when he popped a puck over the pads of Patterson, extending the Eagles lead to 4-1. The goal would signal the end of the night for Patterson, who would cede the net to Drew Owsley for the duration of the contest.
The change would provide a spark, as forward Ryan Rupert beat Saunders with a shot from the slot at the 10:47 mark of the opening stanza, trimming the Eagles lead to 4-2.
The momentum would swing right back in the Eagles favor on a goal from defenseman Jake Marto on a 2-on-1 rush down the ice, growing the Colorado lead to 5-1 at the 11:19 mark of the first period. The onslaught would continue as another odd-man rush for the Eagles led to a backdoor pass being stuffed home by forward Luke Salazar to bring the Colorado lead to 6-2 with 6:23 remaining in the first period.
St-Amant would nab his second goal of the night when he grabbed a drop pass from Pierro-Zabotel and snapped it past Owsley with 3:53 left in the opening period of play.
The Thunder would jump back on the board at the 4:19 mark of the second period when forward Blake Tatchell spun a backhand shot at the side of the net past Saunders to slice the Eagles lead to 7-3.
Colorado would again earn itself a power play and would again find a way to capitalize, as Register crept down the right circle a buried a shot in the back of the net to put the Eagles up 8-3 with 11:35 remaining in the middle frame.
With time winding down in the second stanza and Colorado back on the man-advantage, an Eagles turnover would land on the tape of Wichita forward Ian Lowe who would lift the puck over the shoulder of Saunders, trimming the Colorado advantage to 8-4. With his two points on the night, Lowe moved into eighth all-time in scoring with the Thunder (currently at 197 points), surpassing Ron Handy, who had 196 career points in a Thunder sweater.
Heading into the third period, the Eagles would waste little time lighting the lamp again, as Pierro-Zabotel would jam home a loose puck on top of the crease with only 22 seconds gone in the final frame of regulation. Neither team would find the back of the net in the remaining 19:38 and Colorado would hold on to secure the 9-4 victory.
So far on the road trip for Wichita, they have allowed 23 goals (7.67 goals per game) in three games — 17 coming to the Eagles, who the Thunder will see for “Guaranteed Win Night” on February 8th and will see three more times the rest of the regular season on February 8, 10 & 11 at INTRUST Bank Arena. The nine goals allowed Saturday night matches a season-high allowed (December 30 vs. Allen). Offensively, the Thunder have racked up eight goals (2.67 goals per game) on the current road trip.
Colorado continues their homestand on Wednesday night when the Alaska Aces come to Loveland, while Wichita continues their six-game road trip with three in Missouri beginning Friday night.