Jan 272004
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

After losing a defensive battle in a 3-2 shootout Friday night

at the Budweiser Events Center, the Colorado Eagles responded to

Bossier-Shreveport’s physical play with bare fists and raw emotions

in a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles were forced into a heavy hitting battle because they

felt the Mudbugs outplayed them in too many different areas Friday

night.

“I would have liked to see some more pressure in front of the

net,” Colorado coach Chris Stewart said after the loss. “We had one

turnover that resulted in a goal but for the most part we were just

outplayed physically.”

That one turnover came off the stick of defenseman Brent

Thompson early in the first period. Arguably one of the most

dependable and physical defenseman in the league, he was first to

comment after the game on his mental error.

“I think I have to eliminate those (mental) mistakes,” Thompson

said. “Even though we came back from a two-goal deficit, we just

need to correct the little things and if we can do that, we will

win a lot of games.”

Eagles forwards Riley Nelson and Mike McGhan both scored in the

second to tie the game, but it was Mudbugs goalie Jeff Blair who

held the fort, making 33 saves including all three shots in the

shootout.

Blair was chosen to start over Central Hockey League All-Star

goalie Ken Carroll and the decision turned out to be a good one.

Carroll made many tough saves late in the third period and 4-on-4

overtime frame.

“He’s just unbelievable,” said Mudbugs broadcaster Steve Mears.

“Since he came over from Odessa, he’s never had a bad game for us.

He’s made the Mudbugs a better team and the Mudbugs have made him a

better goalie.”

Less than 20 hours later, in Colorado’s third televised (UPN-20)

match of the season, the Eagles and Mudbugs came out fighting. Both

teams combined for 136 penalty minutes including five majors and

two game misconducts.

Forward Greg Pankewicz was ejected in a bloody first period for

fighting with Mudbugs defenseman Jim Sprott. Overall, there were 84

penalty minutes on 25 penalties in the first period alone.

“We needed to have a good start,” Eagles CEO Bill Stewart said.

“We needed to get out there and take the physical game to them

early.”

Colorado scored four straight goals after Mudbugs forward Pete

Wildfong scored early in the first period. Wildfong also scored the

first and clinching penalty shot in the shootout the night before

against Eagles goalie Ryan Bach.

“I think he’s an average player who gets under everyone’s skin,”

said a perturbed Stewart after Wildfong had silenced the 22nd

consecutive sellout crowd at the Events Center.

The Eagles tied the game on a goal by Latvian defenseman Igor

Bondarevs at 2:28 of the second period. Forward Daniel Bohac

followed with his seventh goal of the season 26 seconds later.

Forward Ryan Tobler scored his 25th of the season on a power play

to seal the redemptive win for the Eagles and Nelson added an

empty-netter in the third period.

The Eagles are first in the Northwest Division at 28-10-3; their

59 points put them second overall in the CHL. They will be on the

road for the weekend, playing three consecutive games against

Lubbock, Texas, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan., starting

Thursday.

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