Mar 282004
 
Authors: Justin Goldman

The Colorado Eagles’ wings have been clipped and the final page

of a successful expansion season has been turned.

Some 546 miles away from the Eagles’ home, the Budweiser Events

Center, in Wichita, Kan., the Central Hockey League’s Northern

Conference Champions could not force a Game 5, losing the

conference’s best-of-five semifinal series 3-1 to the Wichita

Thunder. After playing well enough in Game 3 of the series to force

another game in Kansas, the Eagles failed to bring the series back

home, losing Game 4 2-1 on Saturday. The team dug itself into a

deep hole by losing Games 1 and 2 at home, and failed to make a

historic comeback. No team has ever come back from being down 2-0

in a playoff series and only one team has forced a fifth game.

“I felt that this team had all the tools to get it done,”

Eagles’ head coach Chris Stewart told local reporters. “That’s

truly what I believed.”

Despite scoring first in four straight games, penalties and

penalty killing were the forces of nature that the Eagles were

unable to contend with. Ten opportunities for the Thunder in Game 4

kept the Eagles from establishing their great forecheck from Games

2 and 3. The Thunder scored seven of their 10 goals with the man

advantage.

The amount of whistles that went against the Eagles allowed

Wichita to stifle Colorado with the goaltending of Nathan

Grobins.

“It was an unreal series,” Grobins said. “It’s not too often

that you sweep a No. 1 team, but we did not want to go back to

Colorado for a Game 5.”

Fans numbering 2,677 stood and cheered in the final 90 seconds

as Stewart tried to pull goaltender Ryan Bach for an extra

attacker. Bach exited with 37 seconds left but the Thunder held on

for a 2-1 victory, completing the first-round upset.

The goaltending battle was fabulous for the entire series and

Grobins was just a puck better than Bach in Game 4.

Although their season is now over, the Eagles said they have too

many bright spots from the regular season to not be excited for

their next run.

 

CHILL IN PLAYOFFS

The Colorado Chill of the National Women’s Basketball League

finished its regular season much like the Eagles did, but just a

little better.

The Chill ended the season undefeated at home 12-0 after

crushing the Chicago Blaze, 78-64 at the Budweiser Events Center

Tuesday.

Now they are looking to spark a run in the NWBL Pro Cup

Playoffs, which begin Tuesday in Dallas. The return of ex-CSU

basketball star Becky Hammond to the Chill’s roster adds fuel to

the fire as the team looks to make some noise in its first playoff

season.

The Chill finished first in the NWBL standings by going 17-11

overall and received a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The

team plays the winner of Tuesday’s playoff-opening Chicago

Blaze-Birmingham Power game on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

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