For only the second time all year the Colorado Eagles lost a
game at the Budweiser Events Center.
The Memphis River Kings, Central Hockey League champions from
last season, came in with a record of 12-4 and defeated the Eagles
6-4 Wednesday night. The Eagles got their revenge just two days
later, defeating the River Kings 5-2 on Friday.
“We weren’t ready in the first period, and that was my fault,”
said Eagles head Coach Chris Stewart about the team’s first loss in
eight home games.
“We felt them out way too long and gave them easy goals,” added
left winger Ryan Tobler.
Despite taking a 1-0 lead on center Brad Patterson’s third goal
of the season, the Eagles allowed the River Kings to storm back and
score five unanswered goals to take a 5-1 lead after two
Memphis was led by forwards Don Parsons and Jonathan Gagnon, who
are fifth and eighth in CHL scoring, respectively. Gagnon had three
points (1 goal, 2 assists) and was named the first star of
“It was unacceptable how we came out,” said Eagles forward
Karlis Zirnis. “We could have either made it a brawl or play the
game we know how to play.”
Zirnis tried sparking a third-period comeback by getting his
fifth goal of the season just 18 seconds in. His goal was followed
by Ryan Tobler’s 10th of the season and linemate Riley Nelson’s
But three goals in the third period were not enough as Memphis
held on to a 6-4 victory, ending the Eagles’ home winning streak at
River Kings’ goaltender Jean-Francois Racine made 34 saves for
his first win of the season while Ryan Bach was not mentally sharp
in net for the Eagles. Bach only made 14 saves on 20 shots and
suffered his fifth loss of the season.
“We were hungrier as the game progressed, but we weren’t
mentally sharp,” Stewart said. “At the end of the day though,
there’s another game.”
Friday’s rematch was more of the defensive effort the Eagles and
coach Stewart were looking for.
The Eagles came out killing an early Memphis power play and
limiting the River Kings to only eight first-period shots.
Unfortunately, their physical play led to roughing penalties and
more time playing shorthanded.
A roughing penalty on Nelson halfway through the second led to a
power play goal by Memphis forward Alexandre Mathieu. That was
followed by another goal less than a minute later. River Kings’
defenseman Brent Ozarowski gobbled a horrible turnover by Patterson
and slid the puck past Bach for his second of the season.
“This is two games in a row we’ve spotted teams easy goals,”
said defenseman Brent Thompson. “We have to stop turning the puck
over and start finding our focus.”
Down 2-0, focus came in the form of Patterson, who made up for
his earlier turnover by scoring on a 5-on-3 power play to cut the
Eagles’ deficit in half.
Thirty-six seconds later, Tobler scored his first of two power
play goals as his linemates, Nelson and Greg Pankewicz, made
beautiful passes to set up his 11th goal.
Tobler scored another power play goal just two minutes into the
third. He took another nice feed from Pankewicz and found the net
behind River Kings’ goalie Shawn Conschafter.
Tobler’s second power play goal of the game was enough for the
win, and Bach had a better appearance, making 25 saves for his 12th
win. The Eagles added two empty-net goals by Mike McGhan and
Pankewicz and defeated Memphis 5-2 to go 13-5-1 on the season.
Pankewicz is still the leading scorer in the CHL with 37 points,
Tobler is fourth with 32 points and Nelson is seventh with 25
The Eagles face the New Mexico Scorpions Wednesday to close out
a six-game home stand. The Eagles are 4-1 during the stint and have
outscored their opponents, 24-16. Meanwhile the team’s power play
has caught fire, going 3-4 in Friday’s game and rising to 23
percent – good enough for second in the CHL.
“Even when we are down four or five goals, we always feel we can
come back,” Tobler said. “We have to continue using our advantage
of being the more aggressive team and having that great power
NORTHWEST DIVISION STANDINGS AS OF MONDAY Division
Team GP W L OTL PTS
COL. 19 13 5 1 27
OK.C 21 11 8 2 24
Tulsa 19 9 6 4 22
N.Mex 18 8 9 1 17
Wichit 19 7 9 3 17