LOVELAND, CO. – Eagles forward Julien Nantel scored the game-winning goal just 1:20 into overtime, as Colorado defeated the Toledo Walleye 4-3 in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday. The victory now gives the Eagles a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game Four set for Friday night at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. Colorado turned in a stingy defensive effort, holding Toledo to a playoff-low 12 shots in the contest. Forward Alex Belzile collected a goal and an assist in the victory.
Colorado would barge its way out to an early lead just 14 seconds into the contest when forward Shawn St-Amant deflected a shot from the point into the back of the net to give the Eagles the early 1-0 advantage.
The Walleye would level the score when forward Kyle Bonis tipped a slapshot from the blueline, beating Colorado goaltender Lukas Hafner to tie the game at 1-1 at the 11:08 mark of the first period. Just minutes later, Toledo would claim its first lead of the night when forward Tylor Spink sliced through the low slot and lifted a backhander into the net to put the Walleye up 2-1 with 5:24 remaining in the opening frame.
The Eagles would scratch their way back to even the score at 2-2 when Belzile collected a rebound on top of the crease and bashed it past Toledo goalie Jeff Lerg with only 2:37 left in the first period of play. The tally now gives Belzile at least one goal in 10 of his last 11 contests.
After a scoreless second period that saw Colorado outshoot Toledo 10-3, the Eagles would jump on top early in the third period, as defenseman Sergei Boikov launched a shot from the blueline that deflected off of a Walleye defenseman and into the back of the net. The goal was Boikov’s first of the postseason and put Colorado on top 3-2 with just 3:31 gone in the final frame.
The Walleye would strike back on the power play when defenseman Matt Caito unfurled a slapshot from the left circle that would beat Hafner and knotted the game at 3-3 with 8:00 to play in regulation.
With 60 minutes unable to decide a winner, the two teams headed to overtime where Nantel would bury a wrister from between the circles to give Colorado the 4-3 victory just 1:20 into the extra session.
Colorado finished the night going 0-for-3 on the power play, while Toledo converted on one of its four opportunities on the man-advantage.
The Eagles return to action when they face the Toledo Walleye in Game Four of the ECHL Western Conference Finals on Friday, May 19th at 7:05pm MT at the Budweiser Events Center.
Tickets for all third round games are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the Budweiser Events Center box office, online at ColoradoEagles.com or by calling the Eagles ticket office at (970) 686-SHOT (7468).