Mar 102004
Authors: Justin Goldman

The Colorado Eagles surpassed all expectations for an expansion

team by clinching the Northwest Division title after a 4-2 victory

over the Oklahoma City Blazers Friday night at a sold-out Budweiser

Events Center.

Gian Baldrica made 26 saves and Riley Nelson scored two

first-period goals to help the Eagles clinch the division

championship. Baldrica, the backup to Ryan Bach, played his third

straight game, allowing Bach to rest for the playoffs.

“I thought he played pretty well – he didn’t give up anything,”

head coach Scott Stewart said of Baldrica.

Colorado’s defensive effort was outstanding in response to

Stewart’s heated remarks after losing a third-period lead to the

Wichita Thunder in the first game of the six-game home stand last


“We played solid defensively and didn’t give up too many

opportunities,” Stewart said. “One bad pinch by the defense, but

for the most part we were error free in our own zone. We played the

game we wanted to play.”

Colorado is waiting to see which team will be its first playoff

opponent: either Wichita or the Memphis River Kings. Until that

time comes, Stewart said mental preparation is the key heading into

a final three-game road trip.

“We can start to dissect what other teams are trying to do,” he

said. “That’s the big part of the year that’s coming up right now.

We need to make sure we understand the other team’s tendencies as

cold as possible.”

Although the Eagles have a potent offense, their goaltending duo

of Bach and Baldrica is probably the most impressive in the league.

At 10-1-0, Baldrica leads the Central Hockey League with a 2.05

goals-against average. Ryan Bach leads the league with more than

3,000 minutes played in 50 games and is second in wins with 30.

No matter how strong the offense is, the focal point in the

playoffs is always the goaltending and defensive play.

“It’s always smart to have a guy that’s ready to go and have a

guy with confidence,” Stewart said about his goalie tandem. “Now’s

a good time because I think it’s two-fold: It gives Gian some

confidence but it also gives Ryan a much needed rest – not

necessarily physically, but mentally.”

Bach took advantage of his three-game break from play to prepare

for the playoffs, knowing he will be the workhorse throughout the


“When you play this many games in the season, it’s nice to take

a step back and take a look at your game and get some rest,” Bach

said. “During my three-game break I watched some video and anytime

you watch yourself you can see the little things. When you are

playing all the time you don’t get an opportunity to do that.”

When asked about his friend and backup Baldrica, Bach was

adamant, saying: “He’s come in and he’s played very well in the

last three games and you can’t ask for anything more than what he’s

done. I think we have a great situation right now.”

So in light of the efficient goaltending the Eagles have had all

season, the coaching staff and the club can now focus on other

things, like team defense and neutral-zone play.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Bach is the guy that is going

to can carry this club,” Stewart said.

Scoreboard watching…

The Eagles have been doing a little scoreboard-watching this

week. The Northern Conference title is still up for grabs as the

Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are one step ahead of the Eagles with 87

points. Both teams have three games remaining on the season.

Tonya Harding plays Hockey? She does now

It’s not a typo. The Indianapolis Ice have signed ex-figure

skater Tonya Harding for the remainder of the regular season.

Harding, known for her exploits during the Olympics against Nancy

Kerrigan, has been signed for promotional reasons. Her first game

will be against the Eagles on Friday night in Indianapolis.


Colorado 61 41 16 4 86 .705 223 149 1410 25-5-2 16-11-2

Wichita 61 34 22 5 73 .598 187 188 1515 19-10-1 15-12-4

N.Mexico 61 30 26 5 65 .533 191 195 1280 21-10-1 9-16-4

Okla.City 61 27 27 7 61 .500 163 184 1520 15-12-4 1 2-15-3

Tulsa 61 23 25 13 59 .484 177 199 1056 17-8-6 6-17-7

Chill wins again at home, 9-0 at Events Center

The Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League

defeated the Springfield Spirit Tuesday night, 60-49. With a

season-high six-game winning streak, the Chill is now 12-5 on the

season and sits atop league standings. Center Ruth Riley led the

team with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, marking the

Olympic hopefuls third double-double. Colorado’s next game is

Saturday afternoon in Houston against the Stealth, which trails the

Chill by 1.5 games in the standings.

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