Tired, short-benched and fighting the injury bug, the Colorado Eagles clinched a playoff spot during the week and are now looking to separate themselves from divisional opponents.
The Eagles (38-14) are headed to the postseason for the fourth-straight season. Colorado earned their spot with a 5-1 victory on the road over the Wichita Thunder Tuesday as five different Eagles scored goals.
Colorado was the first team to clinch a berth in the 12-team playoff field.
The Eagles remain on top of the CHL in points with 76. In the Northern Division, the Memphis River Kings and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are tied for second with 72 each. In the Southern Division, the Laredo Bucks lead the way with 73 points.
Despite having the most wins in the CHL, the Eagles continue to slide in the coaches’ poll. Last week Colorado dropped the top spot to Bossier-Shreveport, after holding it for seven straight weeks. This week the Eagles dropped to third, giving up second place to Laredo. Colorado has struggled against both teams, showing a combined record of 1-3 against them.
This weekend the Eagles have two golden opportunities to extend their point lead as they face the two teams with the worst records in the CHL. Tonight, Colorado hosts the Lubbock Cotton Kings (20-26-6). Colorado has faced the Cotton Kings only once this season, cruising to a 5-2 victory. Lubbock has struggled this year, going 4-6 in its last ten contests. The two teams will play once more before the season is over.
On Saturday, Colorado is slated to host their in-state rival Rocky Mountain Rage (13-33-5). This game will mark the end of a 12-game season series. Colorado has dominated the series so far, winning nine contests including the last six straight. During these games, the Eagles have had little trouble sparking offense as they have out-scored the Rage 45 goals to 28.
The Eagles’ focus now shifts to retaining the top position in the Northern Division. By earning this spot the Eagles are guaranteed to make it to at least the second round of the playoffs.
The road to the top spot will not be an easy one, though. Colorado must play eight of its final 12 games on the road. Of the remaining games, eight are against teams with winning records.
Eagles beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.