The NHL may have given us a whopping four and a half days between the end of the third round and the start of the Stanley Cup Final, but Colorado fans have some pretty solid news from their ECHL affiliate during the brief NHL hiatus.
Led by goaltender Joe Cannata, the Colorado Eagles managed to pull off a win in Game 7 of their conference final against the Fort Wayne Komets, ousting Arizona’s tier II affiliate to earn a berth in the 2018 Kelly Cup Final.
Cannata has been a key piece of the Eagles this year, arguably serving as the difference-maker for the ECHL affiliate with 28 appearances during the regular season; his .931 save percentage came with a 21-5-1 record, while both Sam Brittain and Lukas Hafner posted matching .897 save percentages in 27 and 20 games, respectively.
During the postseason, his numbers have been just as good, although he’s been going it largely alone. Although Hafner has a combined 53 minutes played so far in two playoff games, Cannata has appeared in 17 of Colorado’s appearances, posting a 12-4 record, two shutouts, and a .924 save percentage in all situations.
He allowed three goals in five of the seven games Colorado played against Fort Wayne, but didn’t exactly do so on low shot volumes—and after an impressive ten minutes of overtime hockey in the final game of the series, he finally got a chance to breathe when sophomore forward Ryan Olsen netted his third tally of the postseason to punch the Eagles’ ticket to the Kelly Cup.
It’s a bittersweet situation for the ECHL affiliate. They’ve won their division 7 times, their conference 6 times, and the President’s Trophy twice, but never managed to take home the ultimate prize; they’ve been perennial playoff contenders but just can’t seem to get it done.
Now, they’re getting one last shot, literally. They’ve been accepted as an expansion team for the AHL this upcoming season, so they’ll be moving on to bigger and better things—but a Kelly Cup would certainly be something to witness.
If you’d like a better rundown of their incredible game seven comeback, by the way, the Reporter-Herald did a fantastic write-up of the game. [Reporter-Herald]
Also, Mile High Hockey has some pretty exciting news regarding their move to the AHL next year:
The Roadrunners will play the newest member of the AHL, the Colorado Eagles, a team-high 12 times next season.— Alexander Kinkopf (@AEKinkopf) May 24, 2018
8x each: Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton
4x each: Chicago, Rockford, Iowa, Texas
All games split evenly home/away.
While we hope for regular credentials in Loveland, as well, I’ve got a press pass for the Tucson Roadrunners and a quick two-hour drive (lol) to get to their games. At the very least, we’ll get six solid chances to chat with the AHL crew next year throughout the season, bringing you guys more interviews, game analysis, and fun stuff.
In more team news, Gabriel Bourque is back for another year with the Avalanche, inking his extension on Thursday to shore up some more depth for the upcoming season. [Mile High Hockey]
Meanwhile, Nick Henry is having himself a tournament at the Memorial Cup, where there’s still some Avs action happening for the prospect. [MHH]
In some other, non-Avs ECHL news, we can get behind this new ECHL Newfoundland team’s jersey concept REAL quick:
The Newfoundland Growlers set. Now with a Gold version of the Alternate jersey. #jerseyconcept #jerseys #stjohnsnl #growlers #growler #echl #echlhockey #newfoundlandhockey #newfoundland #hockeyconcept #jerseydesign #hockeyjersey #hockeyjerseys #hockeydesign #canadianhockey pic.twitter.com/H8LQ7xKpL4— Jeff (@j_tasca) May 24, 2018
Finally, some cool news out of the SPHL as the Macon Mayhem add Leo Thomas as their head coach for the 2018-19 pro season. A former team assistant and ECHL journeyman, Thomas becomes the first black head coach in SPHL history, and the only current black head coach in North American pro hockey at any level. [The Color of Hockey]