With the help of Marco Emond’s spectacular goaltending, the Colorado Eagles took care of business in its weekend games at the Budweiser Events Center.
On Saturday night, the Eagles finished their season series against the Rocky Mountain Rage in style.
Colorado (40-14) beat Rocky Mountain 3-1 as they completed its season series against the Rage (14-34-5) winning 10 out of the 12 games. Head Coach Chris Stewart credited the victory to Emond’s play.
“If I’m looking to pick a game this year where I feel a goaltender won a game for us, tonight was that game,” Stewart said. “Marco Emond won this game for us. I thought he was absolutely outstanding.”
Emond saved 32 of 33 shots on goal to earn his 24th win of the season.
Center Riley Nelson helped put Rocky Mountain away in the third period as he scored with two minutes left in the game for his 36th goal of the season. Forward Seth Leonard scored the game winning goal 6:36 into the third period.
“It was like a Chinese fire-drill down there,” Leonard said describing the goal. “I wasn’t thinking much. I was just trying to get it on net.”
The game began with both teams playing very aggressively in a defensive battle. Both teams were unable to capitalize on either of their two power-play chances and the first period ended without a goal.
Eagles left wing Steve Haddon scored the first goal of the game with about five minutes left in the second period.
With the goal, Haddon extended his five-game scoring streak to six as he continued his solid play. He has doubled his offensive output in the last few weeks, which has included three goals and five assists.
“I just think I get my confidence from playing with other tuff players,” Haddon said. “I’m just feeding off them and the puck is just lining up for me right now.”
The Eagles started the weekend by defeating the Lubbock Cotton Kings Friday night. Colorado made up for a slow start by scoring five goals in the final two periods.
Colorado center Ed McGrane scored his third goal of the game in the third period, helping to lead the Eagles to a 6-1 victory. Haddon, center Sean Robertson and defenseman Aaron Grosul also had goals. Grosul’s goal was his first of the season.
Emond played a solid game, stopping 30 of 31 shots. The game marked Emond’s first game back after being placed on the 14-day goalie injured reserve.
Stewart was thoroughly disappointed with the way his team started the game.
“We stood around, didn’t play our game and just took things easy,” he said. “In the second and third we came out and played the game we needed to play, which was far more aggressive. If we are aggressive and we are using our speed, we are tough to beat.”
Friday’s game marked the first time in more than a month that Colorado had played with a full bench of 16 players. McGrane said this would help the team’s endurance.
“Everyone contributed tonight and that is what happens when you have a full bench,” McGrane said. “You don’t have to run only two lines and you don’t get burnt out by the second period.”
The Eagles will head back to the road next week for games in Wichita on Wednesday, Laredo on Friday and Austin on Saturday.
As the team approaches the playoffs with just 10 games left, Stewart said everything changes.
“It’s all about winning now,” he said. “The regular season is about getting better and winning hockey games. The playoffs, your second season, is the real season that’s about just winning. You have to win.”
Eagles beat writers Adam Bohlmeyer and Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.