For the Colorado Eagles, their entire season came down to one game. Win or go home; do or die; put up or shut up. The Eagles decided to put up, netting six goals on their way to a 6-2 victory Wednesday night at the Budweiser Events Center.
The best-of-seven series quickly turned into a winner-take-all, single game match-up. Awaiting the winner was a berth into the Northern Conference finals to take on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
Eagles head coach Chris Stewart shared his thoughts on preparing for game seven:
“One of the most important things we had to do, was not play cautious hockey…that was my biggest concern that we were going to step out and play cautious hockey, play not to lose.”
In period one, Colorado showed they were playing to win, scoring two goals to Oklahoma City’s one, out-shooting the Blazers 20 to 12. Chris Hartsburg got the first tally, and Lee Arnold followed up seven minutes later with one of his own. Garrett Prosofsky notched the lone goal for the Blazers, cutting the Eagles lead in half before the end of the first period.
With both teams determined not to make any mistakes, period two tightened up into a defensive battle, as only 11 total shots were hoisted. Colorado did find a way however, regaining a two-goal lead off of Riley Nelson’s goal. His would prove to be the only score of the period and the Eagles found themselves twenty minutes away from advancing, leading 3-1 after two.
Things were far from over, however, as Colorado extended their lead when Scott Polaski scored only 58 seconds into period three. Oklahoma answered right back with another Prosofsky goal 18 seconds later. That would be the last Blazer goal as Eagles goaltender Paulo Coalaicovo turned aside eight Oklahoma City shots in period three.
Following perhaps his best performance of the series (with 23 saves), Coalaicovo reflected on his performance.
“It was up to me to come back and meet the challenge, to help these guys out and they responded well. We got the win and that was the main thing,” Coalaicovo said.
The Eagles will move on to the Northern Conference Finals to face Bossier-Shreveport. Games one and two will be at the Budweiser Events Center on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.