The Colorado Eagles' goal in game five was to shut down the stellar play of Jason Flick. They went above and beyond that challenge.
Game five was do or die for the Eagles as going into Wichita down 3-2 was a situation they would not likely return from. Colorado was well aware of the need to make up for poor performances in games three and four and played a solid, consistent game en route to a 5-2 victory.
"The opportunity has been there for us to finish the series, but we just haven't done that yet," said Eagles head coach Chris Stewart.
The Eagles started off a pivotal game five with a bang, getting a quick goal from Riley Nelson to start Colorado's offensive drive. Wichita responded just two minutes later though with a tricky tip in from Sean Allison that trickled through the pads of Tyler Weiman. Colorado, determined not to make the same mistakes that cost them two games in Kansas kept up the offensive pressure for the remainder of the first, with Ryan Tobler notching a goal near the end of the period to give the Eagles some breathing room entering the first intermission.
"Colorado played a great two periods to get a 4-1 lead," said Duane Lewis, vice president of operations for the Central Hockey League. "Scoring the first goal is the key."
Despite the game being evenly matched in shots, Colorado maintained a dominating presence through the third period, outplaying and out hustling the visiting Thunder. Weiman was spectacular for the Eagles, making key saves to sustain Colorado's momentum. Chris Hartsburg racked up an easy goal to start the period, but the real back breaker for the Thunder was a shorthanded, Mike Lephart breakaway goal off a bad neutral zone turnover. Lephart's goal was his second shorthanded goal against the Thunder in just five games. Jason Flick was unusually poor for Wichita, giving up five goals on 36 shots.
Despite getting an early goal in the third from Paul Esdale, Wichita was unable to muster a sufficient comeback to quell the attack the Eagles unleashed. Colorado managed a final goal from Kevin McDonald on a breakaway to seal the deal and take any remaining thunder away from Wichita. The Eagles demonstrated why they are undefeated at home in the playoffs this year by not making the same mistakes they made in Kansas: playing three full 20 minute periods, giving Weiman plenty of support and getting on the board early.
"We said at the beginning of the series that we'd do whatever it took to get here," Stewart said. "We never said it'd be a short series."
The Eagles and Thunder drop the puck again Wednesday night at the Kansas Coliseum at 6 p.m.