Oct 172004
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

The Colorado Eagles started a second season of Central Hockey

League play by trampling their Northern Conference rival, the Tulsa

Oilers, with scores of 6-0 and 7-2.

Don King could have promoted the continually sold-out Budweiser

Events Center as both games developed into fight nights for 5,289

fans. The two games totaled 206 penalty minutes, 50 infractions, 22

fighting majors and three game misconducts handed to Colorado’s

Kris Mallette, Fraser Filipic and Ryan Tobler.

“It’s great that we won the game(s), but more importantly we saw

guys backing each other up when it came to physical presence,” said

Eagles head coach Chris Stewart. “That’s all part of the chemistry

and team toughness we tried to work on last year.”

Mallette, a defenseman synonymous with the striking tool, laid

down the law Friday night by fighting Scott English, an ex-Fort

Worth Brahma. English threw a sucker punch over the top of a

linesman, hitting center Riley Nelson, which infuriated Mallette

and forced an old-fashioned tangle at center ice.

“We knew we were getting a big tough hombre in Mallette to begin

with,” Stewart said. “But the way he’s played was a lot better than

what we expected him to play. He’s been real solid, he’s strong on

his one-on-one’s, he moves the puck very well and he scares the

dickens out of guys – he’s done a lot of good things for us.”

Friday night’s shot total was the most lopsided in Eagles

history at 61-12. Saturday was more of the same at 53-24. Repeated

chances in the slot and many odd-man rushes were attributed to

Tulsa’s struggles with the lack of time to prepare for the Eagles’

offensive onslaught.

“They haven’t done too much conditioning from what I

understand,” Stewart said. “They are at a whole different altitude

and they didn’t have much time to adjust at all.”

The floodgates opened at 15:52 of the first period when

hope-to-be Eagle Steve McCormack took advantage of a rebound

opportunity that deflected off the stick of Avalanche draft pick

David Svagrovsky. McCormack was patient and made no mistake

drilling the loose puck past an outstretched Oilers goalie, Evan

Lindsay.

Riley Nelson and Ryan Tobler hooked each other up for goals in

the second period, both beating Lindsay between the legs. Lindsay

faced 43 prime shots before Jeremy Dotson replaced him after two

periods.

“I thought both their goaltenders played very well, but Lindsay

was extremely strong,” Stewart said.

The Eagles were dominant, displaying patient puck control and

efficient passing, feisty forechecking, and speed up the middle,

pretty much everything found in their arsenal from last season.

Colorado College graduate Gian Baldrica was rarely tested Friday

night, but still combined with Avalanche prospect Tyler Weiman to

get the shutout on a combined 12 shots. Weiman played the first

half of Saturday’s game as well before Joe Watkins showed his stuff

on Saturday.

“Our defense did an outstanding job,” said Baldrica. “I mean

what else can you say?

Twelve total shots. I think they did a good job getting into

shape as quickly as they did.”

Defensemen Jesse Cook and Lee Ruff each scored during the

weekend, two players who will have to play with super-human

strength to fill the boots of ex-captain Brent Thompson, who signed

a contract to play for the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey

League.

The Eagles showed the Oilers why offseason training is vital for

regular season success. Phil Crowe, last season’s tough and rugged

veteran and player-coach, took the next step in his career by

hanging up the skates after 14 professional seasons. This weekend

he was standing behind the bench making the calls while coach

Stewart watched from afar to analyze his talent pool and start

making his tough roster decisions.

“Chris did a great job recruiting, but we all pitched in a

little bit,” said Crowe. “But I think things are going well so far.

I’m excited about it and its time for me to move on and time for me

to get involved in this stage of it. I can learn a lot from

Chris.”

The Eagles will only have 18 skaters suited up when their

regular season starts Oct. 22 on the road against the Oklahoma City

Blazers. Colorado’s first home game is the following Friday on Oct.

29 against the Memphis River Kings.

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