Taking on the Oklahoma City Blazers Wednesday night, the Colorado Eagles got an up-close view of their most likely first round playoff opponent.
With only three regular season games remaining, the Eagles have secured their second consecutive Governors’ Cup with the best record in the Central Hockey League, while Oklahoma City entered the contest as the fourth seed in the Northern Division. This puts the clubs on a collision course for round one of the playoffs, set to start next Saturday April 1st.
Eagles Captain Greg Pankewicz discussed the potential first round matchup.
“They are a real aggressive team, they communicate well and they work hard. It’s a great challenge for us,” Pankewicz said.
So far this season, Colorado has gone 5-2-1 against Oklahoma City, including a
4-0 victory on Wednesday night. They will be looking for that trend to hold up should these clubs meet in the playoffs.
“Oklahoma City has one of the best lineups as far as scoring goals,” Eagles head coach Christ stewart said. “It’s truly going to be the best first round match up in the league this year.”
Colorado got things started early in this contest as Ryan Tobler put in his 25th goal of the season only 1:32 into the game. Later in the period, Scott Polaski got into the act, notching a short-handed goal to put Colorado up 2-0 after seven minutes of play. That score would carry over into the second frame as solid goaltending kept both teams off the board for the remainder of the period.
In period two, goaltenders Paulo Colaiacovo and Sebastien Centomo took center stage turning aside a number of terrific scoring opportunities. Neither team could find a cure for the opposing net-minder, as Colorado’s 2-0 lead stood up heading into the final period.
“You see what we have done in the last ten games or so, and it’s a direct result of Paulo. No question about that,” Tobler said.
Early on in the third period, Eagles captain Greg Pankewicz finally cracked Centomo, netting a goal off of some nifty give-and-go passing with line-mate Ryan Tobler. He would add a second tally before the period ended. On the defensive end of the ice, the Eagles got more stalwart goal keeping from Colaiacovo, as he turned aside a total of 32 shots in the game for his fourth shutout of the season.
In a solid all-around effort, the Eagles looked eager to begin their championship title defense as the playoffs edge closer with every win.
Colorado will finish up the regular season at home this weekend with games on Friday and Saturday night against the Wichita Thunder. Games one and two of the playoffs will take place the following weekend, also at home, on Saturday April 1st and Sunday April 2nd.