The Colorado Eagles shaved their heads for playoffs, and it seems to be working.
Both Eagles players and coaches removed all of their hair and were rewarded by winning the opening two games of their series against the Youngstown SteelHounds.
Colorado picked up its second win of the series Saturday night.
The Eagles outscored Youngstown 7-2 in the final two periods of the game to solidify a victory. Left wing Seth Leonard, defensemen Aaron Schneekloth and right wing Greg Pankewicz all had multiple-goal games to lead the Eagles to a 7-4 win. Scott Polaski also scored.
Hostilities ran high for both clubs climaxing with a multiple-player brawl early in the third period in which the Eagles committed several penalties. The skirmish gave the SteelHounds a five-minute power play in which they scored one goal.
Colorado battled back from a 2-0 first period deficit, the second night in a row they had to come from behind. Schneekloth does not think trailing early shakes the team.
“We get down early and try not to change our game plan,” said the five-year pro. “We try not to stay back on our heals and use our speed and transition to get some pucks to the net.”
Pankewicz is pleased with the way the team is fighting back when they trail.
“We are up for the challenge,” the Eagles captain said. “We are responding well in these situations in the right manner and we are very fortunate to be up 2-0.”
On Friday, Colorado opened up the series with a game one win. The Eagles put an impressive offensive effort led by three goals from center Riley Nelson and two from left wing Ryan Tobler.
Center Ed McGrane scored the game-winning goal for the Eagles off a deflection from SteelHounds goalie Brad Robertson at 6:27 in the second period.
Brent Hughes also posted a goal helping to propel Colorado to a 7-2 victory.
After blowing two saves in the first period, Eagles goalie Marco Emond clamped down, holding Youngstown scoreless in the second and third.
Eagles Head Coach Chris Stewart felt his team lacked in the first period, but played well the rest of the game.
“The whole team went through the first period in transition,” Stewart said. “We just weren’t as sharp as we usually are. We played well in the second and third but overall it was a solid game.”
Nelson’s hat trick broke the Eagles previous playoff record of goals in a single game, which was two.
Tobler attributes Colorado’s early success to giving a strong effort.
“It is just plain and simple hard work, getting that underdog mentality and just working our butts off every shift,” Tobler said. “It gives us that reputation that we are going to be a hard team to beat.”
Colorado now heads to Youngstown for games three, four and if necessary, five. Pankewicz knows that the road ahead will not be easy, especially heading to the SteelHounds home ice.
“Youngstown is a tough place to play,” Pankewicz said. “They have an extremely good hockey team and we just have to be prepared for the challenge.”
Eagles beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.