Hockey fans witnessed the birth of a new rivalry Friday at the Budweiser Event Center.
The Colorado Eagles opened their season against the Rocky Mountain Rage, an expansion team from Broomfield, in front of the team’s 111th consecutive sell-out crowd.
The Eagles would lose 5-4, disappointing the 5,289 fans attending.
During the third period, the Eagles had several power play opportunities to score, including a brief five-on-three, but were unable to convert.
The Eagles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but played catch-up the rest of the game, falling behind by as many two goals. Despite a hat trick by Captain Greg Pankewicz, the Eagles took a loss in their first game of the season.
In addition to Pankewicz’s goal barrage, center Riley Nelson added a goal in the losing effort.
Head Coach Chris Stewart doesn’t see this game as an outlook of problems for the rest of the season.
“I thought the power play looked fantastic,” Stewart said. “We were passing and skating well. We should have scored more goals on it though.”
Eagles starting goalie Stephan Siwiec struggled in his first career start. After giving up four goals on seven shots on net, Stewart pulled him out, replacing him with fellow rookie Tim Boron.
“The nerves just kicked in on him,” Stewart said. “I don’t usually pull goalies out that early, but I thought I would give another young goalie a chance.”
Boron gave up one goal in two periods.
Rage Head Coach Tracy Egeland was more than happy with the way his team played in their first-ever regular season game.
“It was a good start for the organization,” Egeland said. “We’re a new team and we’re still getting used to each other. I liked that we didn’t quit and kept our heads in it.”
During the game, Pankewicz reached a milestone after scoring his three goals, bringing his career point total to 1,001. He attributed his success to the simple fact that he has stayed injury-free over the years.
Pankewicz stayed focused on the team’s loss more than anything.
“Winning the game is the most important,” Pankewicz said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup as long as you win.”
Even though the Eagles didn’t really get off to an ideal start, they still have high expectations for the rest of the season.
“I feel like this is a team that is going to be more progressive through the year instead of going wire to wire like previous seasons,” Stewart said.
Pankewicz expects anything but an easy season.
“The CFL (Central Hockey League) has a lot of good young teams with some good young coaches,” Pankewicz said. “It is going to be a battle every night.”
Colorado Eagles beat reporters Adam Bohlmeyer and Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the Numbers:
1,001- Points scored by Greg Pankewicz in his 16-year career.
111- Consecutive sell-out crowds at Eagles games.
42-on goal taken by the Eagles compared with 20 by the Rage.
11- Number of times the Eagles and Rage will play again this season.
2- Consecutive Governors Cups won by the Eagles.