After winning the first three games of their best-of-seven series with the Youngstown SteelHounds, the Colorado Eagles will go for the sweep tonight on the SteelHounds’ home ice.
The Eagles have completely dominated the series, outscoring the SteelHounds 19-8. However, they have shown the most control in the final two periods of each game, in which Colorado has outscored Youngstown 16-4.
The Eagles are the only undefeated team left in the Central Hockey League playoffs. The highly favored and top-seeded Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are down 2-1 to the Wichita Thunder.
The top two seeds are guaranteed to advance to the next round. Therefore, if Bossier-Shreveport ends up losing and Colorado goes on to win, the top-seeded Mudbugs would host the Eagles in the second round of the playoffs.
On Wednesday night, the Eagles defeated the SteelHounds 5-2 in Youngstown. Colorado center Ed McGrane scored three goals, becoming the second Eagle of the series to earn a hat trick. Riley Nelson accomplished the feat in game one last Friday night.
The Eagles pulled away in the third period, scoring three goals while shutting down the SteelHounds. Right wing Brent Hughes ignited the final period burst with his second goal of the series. McGrane then sealed the victory for Colorado, scoring his second and third goals of the game.
Colorado never trailed on Wednesday night, though the game went back and forth throughout the first two periods. Defenseman Craig Strain gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead after scoring his first goal of the series halfway through the first period, but Youngstown rookie Rob Sirianni evened the score 1-1 a few minutes later.
McGrane scored the only goal of the second period in a shorthanded effort in the final minutes of the period.
Left wing Ryan Tobler and goalie Marco Emond also had outstanding games for Colorado. Tobler finished with three assists and Emond saved 28 of 30 shots on goal.
If the Eagles do not accomplish the sweep tonight, they will stay in Youngstown for game five and, if necessary, return to Colorado for games six and seven.
Eagles beat reporter Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.