For the second consecutive season, the Colorado Eagles and the Oklahoma City Blazers played a game seven in the Central Hockey League Northern Conference Semi-Finals. And for the second consecutive season, the Eagles came out victorious.
The Eagles defeated the Blazers by the final score of 5-1 on Wednesday night in the Budweiser Events Center – the same margin of victory as the 6-2 win in game seven last season.
Playing its sixth game seven in franchise history, the Blazers came into the game with more game seven experience than any other CHL team. They were also the first team in CHL history to play two series in the same playoff season that finished in seven games.
Head coach Chris Stewart reasoned that their depth and goaltending are what makes Oklahoma City so tough to finish off.
“They’ve got a deep team that’s got some skill,” Stewart said. “Probably one of their best assets is their goaltending.”
Colorado’s left wing Steve Haddon scored the only goal in the third period and the final goal of the game. However, the victory had already been secured.
Six minutes into the first period, the 5,289 fans erupted with earsplitting applause after defenseman Les Borsheim scored the first goal igniting the blazing beating for Colorado. Borsheim also had two assists in the period as he played his best game thus far in the playoffs.
“Getting to Connors (the Blazer goalie) early was a big key for us,” Borsheim said. “We had one goal in two games. I think getting one by him early maybe got to his confidence a bit.”
Captain and center Riley Nelson pounded in the second goal for the Eagles on the first power play of the night. About 10 seconds later, left wing Ryan Tobler hammered one in to make it 3-0 Eagles.
Nelson, who had an assist to go with his goal, also commented on why the Blazers are so tuff to finish off.
“Well they have tenacity,” he said. “They have great leaders who work extremely hard and they have great goal tending.”
Blazer center Chad Hinz ended the chance of a shut out with a goal 15:35 into the first period.
Colorado captain and right wing Greg Pankewicz scored the only goal in the second period to make it 4-1.
The highlight of the period was a fight between right Eagles’ wing Fraser Filipic and Blazer forward Graham Dearle. The fight lasted about 20 seconds and ended with Filipic knocking Dearle out cold.
“Its just two fighters that are extremely good fighters,” Nelson said. “Around the league, they’re both respected. He’s (Filipic) a great fighter. Two guys battling like that is just awesome.”
Stewart said that the fight provided a needed energy boost to close out the game.
“That was the energy we were looking for,” he said. “It was something we wanted to see happen and Filipic went out and took care of it.”
Eagles’ goalie Marco Emond improved his record to 6-3 as he had another solid game, stopping 31 of 32 shots on goal.
Colorado now has home ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs. They will play game one of the Conference Finals on Friday night at the BEC against the Memphis RiverKings.
Eagles beat reporter Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.