Oct 192003
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

Despite out shooting the Tulsa Oilers 44-23, the Colorado Eagles

lost 3-2 in their inaugural season home opener Friday night.

Rod Branch was spectacular in net for the Tulsa Oilers and

simply stole a win from the Eagles as forward Riley Nelson netted

the first and second goal in Eagles’ franchise history.

Five thousand, two hundred and eleven Northern Colorado hockey

fans attended the game at the Budweiser Events Center and had no

problems showing their appreciation for the newest Central Hockey

League team.

Fans roared when the Eagles made their first appearance, booed

when Tulsa stepped onto the ice, completed the wave, chanted “Let’s

go Eagles!” and accepted their new home team instantly.

“I think they should get and already have gotten a lot of

support, especially once they win a few games,” said Chet Berner

from Greeley. “It looks like they have a great fan base

already.”

Berner, a 27-year-old season ticket holder, proudly wore his

stiff Eagles visor and new t-shirt to show his support.

“I love not having to drive all the way to Denver to see a good

hockey game,” he said. “It’s great watching some of the younger

players that will be moving up into the big leagues.”

The high-flying, fast-paced Eagles are loaded up front with

talent. Besides Nelson who scored both goals, including his second

in the final minute of play to make it a close 3-2 contest, the

Eagles found diamonds in the rough with Karlis Zirnis, Fraser

Filipic and Igor Bondarevs.

“I really like Filipic because he’s our fighter,” Sean

O’Donohue, a CSU student and season-ticket holder said. “Phil

Crowe, too, because he’s our team leader.”

Crowe, a 32-year-old assistant coach, assistant captain and

forward for the Eagles hails from Red Deer, Alberta and touts a

professional career that spans two decades. He decided to play for

the team after getting the opportunity to help out owner Ralph

Backstrom, his long-time friend and old coach while playing junior

hockey.

“Ralph is probably 33 years young and one of the nicest guys

I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Crowe said. “He is just a

good-hearted, gentle-natured kind of guy. And he has six Stanley

Cup rings, so to have that kind of experience behind you, it’s a

great feeling.”

Now Crowe has fallen in love with Northern Colorado after

recently purchasing a house in Windsor.

“Right from day one, we couldn’t get over how nice everybody is

here,” he said in an Eagles’ press release. “It is truly a place we

can envision spending the rest of our lives.”

During the 60 minutes of Eagles hockey, fans not only got a

chance to taste the freshest hockey team in the country, but the

freshest beer also. Budweiser thanked fans for their support by

serving beer that was born on that very same day and shipped

directly to the Events Center for opening night only. Commemorative

glasses were also handed out to the first 3,000 fans 21 and

over.

“It’s just great to see something this far north of Denver,”

O’Donohue said just after the loss. “Season tickets were a steal

and I plan on making it to most of (their) games.”

 

 

 

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