Photo Courtesy: Ashley Potts
LOVELAND, CO. – The Colorado Eagles will face the Wichita Thunder in the opening round of the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs after defeating the Thunder, 5-1 on Saturday. Eagles forward Michael Joly scored two goals and added an assist, while Joe Cannata made 27 saves on 28 shots to collect his 21st win of the season.
The power play would propel the Eagles to an early advantage, as Joly would snap a wrister from the top of the right circle that would beat Wichita goalie Dylan Wells and give Colorado the 1-0 lead just 1:42 into the contest. The goal was Joly’s league-leading 40th of the season, as the 22 year-old becomes the first Eagle to eclipse the 40-goal mark since Ed McGrane in the 2009-10 season.
Less than five minutes later, forward Brady Shaw would weave his way from the blue line through the slot before sliding the puck into the back of the net to stretch Colorado’s advantage to 2-0 at the 6:15 mark of the first period.
The onslaught would continue when defenseman Matt Register skated behind the net and fired a shot from behind the end line that would ricochet off a Thunder defenseman and past Wells to make it a 3-0 Eagles lead with 11:07 left to play in the opening frame. The goal would spell the end of the night for Wells, who would give way to Shane Starrett for the remainder of the contest.
Moving into the second period, Colorado would use a Wichita turnover to spring a 2-on-1 rush that would be capped off with a cross-slot pass from Joly onto the tape of forward Matt Garbowsky who would belt the puck past Starrett. The tally would put the Eagles in the lead by a count of 4-0 at the 5:02 mark of the period.
The Thunder would finally break through when forward Ryan Van Stralen tracked down a rebound in the crease and swept it into the net to trim the Eagles advantage to 4-1 with 3:09 remaining in the middle frame.
Colorado would jump back up by four goals just 2:14 into the third period when Joly skated through the left circle before unfurling a wrister that would beat Starrett along the ice and put the Eagles on top, 5-1. Wichita would not come any closer, as Colorado finished the night going 1-for-3 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Eagles return to action when they kick-off the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs against the Wichita Thunder. Dates and times for all playoff games will be released on Sunday, April 8th, while tickets for all home playoff games will go on sale at 10am on Monday, April 9th. Tickets can be purchased at the Budweiser Events Center box office or online at ColoradoEagles.com.