With their backs against the wall, the Colorado Eagles regained home ice advantage in game two of the Northern Conference Finals Sunday night.
Colorado rookie goalie Tim Boron held the Memphis RiverKings scoreless for the last 38 minutes of the contest on his way to a game-two win.
In a desperation effort, Memphis pulled goalie Larry Sterling with just over a minute left in the third period, but it wouldn’t work. With 31 seconds left in the game, Eagles center Riley Nelson found the RiverKings empty net, closing the Eagles 4-2 victory.
In the second period, Colorado came back from an early 2-0 deficit scoring three goals in the period.
Left wing Ryan Tobler would get the Eagles on the board six minutes into the period, redirecting a shot past Memphis goalie Larry Sterling.
Ten minutes later, right wing Scott Polaski would tie the game up at 2-2.
Defensemen Aaron Schneekloth gave Colorado the lead and victory, scoring a power play game-winning goal with a half a second left.
Eagles Head Coach Chris Stewart said the second period made the difference in the game.
“The middle frame has been the frame we have been best at all year long,” Stewart said. “It came through again.”
Schneekloth said the Eagles weren’t frustrated after being down early.
“It is just sticking to the game plan and working hard,” Schneekloth said. “We had our chances and had to go and bury them. It was fortunate it happened tonight.”
Memphis opened up the series with a game-one victory Friday night against the Eagles.
Eagles captain Greg Pankewicz was called for a hold two minutes into the first overtime period, giving the RiverKings a power play opportunity. It was all they needed to put the game away.
One minute into the power play, right wing Jason Sessa put a shot by Colorado goalie Marco Emond, giving Memphis a 3-2 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
Tobler felt the two teams played an extremely close game.
“It was two good skating teams out the there tonight,” Tobler said. “The game could have gone either way. They got the bounces tonight, but it is all about how you respond in the playoffs.”
RiverKings Head coach Kevin McClelland agreed.
“It was anyone’s game out there,” said the fourth year coach. “This was only one game. We still have an up hill battle.”
The Eagles now head to Memphis for the next three games of the series. Colorado has only played the RiverKings at home only once this season, losing 5-4.
Schneekloth doesn’t expect any of these games to be easy.
“It is going to be tough,” Schneekloth said. “It is going to be physical and fast paced. I expect the same type of game we saw in the first two.”
Eagles Beat Reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
By the Numbers-
57- Goals the Eagles have scored during the playoffs this season
2- Wins Boron has in the playoffs compared with 1 loss
1.66- Average Goals per game given up by Boron during the playoffs
1- game lead the Laredo Bucks have on the New Mexico Scorpions in the Southern Conference Finals