In their debut season in the AHL, the Colorado Eagles have done really well this season in terms of both development and on-ice success. The team has been able to graduate many of their players for stints in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, namely Sheldon Dries, A.J. Greer, Dominic Toninato, Andrew Agozzino, Tyson Jost (who was only down for a short time), and Pavel Francouz. The reigning Kelly Cup Champions from the ECHL a year ago sit tied for second in the Pacific Division in the AHL, comfortably in a playoff spot.
The Eagles have also added the third-best winning streak of the season, going nine games from February 26th to March 16th without a loss of any kind. The accomplishment pales in comparison to the mind-blowing 17-game streak the Bakersfield Condors recently went on. You don’t see those often at all. But by comparison, the Syracuse Crunch won 10 in a row last season; the best streak of the year, so what the Eagles did is pretty darn great.
In honor of the streak, let’s go through each of the victories, highlighting some of the players and moments that pushed the team across the finish line.
Game 1 - Feb 26th - 5-3 vs San Antonio Rampage
As the saying goes in hockey, whenever a player is in a massive slump, all they need is a stinker to go in and the floodgates open. This game was that stinker.
The Eagles did not play well in this game. They were on the back-foot at all times, taking penalties left, right, and center, but somehow came out of the second period with a two-goal lead, which they held for the victory. The Eagles did a lot of their damage off the counter-attack, meaning Pavel Francouz had to stop 36 of 39 shots in order to keep his team ahead. Also, with the team chasing the play so much, they were forced to take seven penalties ranging from hooking, holding, tripping, to slashing and cross-checking, with an unsportsmanlike penalty for Andrew Agozzino to boot.
On the positive side, Dominic Toninato led the way with two goals and four points in the win. He could’ve had the hat trick with the net empty at the end, but he passed it off to A.J. Greer for a better chance. Also of note, Max McCormick got his first goal since being traded to the team from the Belleville Senators. He was quite excited about it.
Game 2 - Feb 27th - 6-0 vs San Antonio Rampage
The two teams from last game played each other again the next night, but this time, the Eagles came out looking much better. They played a break-even game in shots against the Rampage, but came away with a huge 6-0 victory at the end of the night.
For some reason, Francouz was asked to play the second night of the back-to-back despite facing 39 shots the night before. It was lucky that he did because he only needed to stop 30 in this game for his second shutout of the season (and not his last of the streak).
On the offensive side, this game was Agozzino’s chance to score four points in a night. Unlike Toninato, he did it with a hat trick in the second and third periods. That line was great, but it can’t be said that the line of Ty Lewis - Max McCormick - Scott Kosmachuk did a great job in the game getting eight points as a line despite getting no points.
Oh, and there was a brawl at the end of the game. Sh*t happens.
Game 3 - Mar 2nd - 3-2 vs Tucson Roadrunners
Once again, the Eagles got heavily out-shot, took a bunch of penalties, but somehow (Pavel Francouz) came out of the game with the win. It was another big win for Francouz, who stopped 43 of 45 while his team could only muster 20 shots on Arizona’s depleted AHL squad with fifth goalie Adin Hill in net.
The Eagles and Roadrunners had a chippy first period that included a fight and handful of penalties for stick swinging, but when the Roadrunners calmed down, the Eagles were still completely willing to take penalties. It must be said, they took a too many men on the ice penalty late in the third period of a close game for the second time in three games, which usually isn’t a recipe for success.
But despite all that, the Eagles stayed one step ahead of the Roadrunners thanks to goals by Sergei Boikov and Logan O’Connor, before David Warsofsky won the game on the power play in overtime.
Game 4 - Feb 3rd - 2-1 vs Tucson Roadrunners
Like game two, this was a much more controlled second half of a back-to-back, the Kosmachuk fight excluded. They held the Roadrunners to a six-shot deficit (25-31) and shut down the game by the end of the second when they carried a 2-1 lead. The team strayed from their pattern and didn’t take a single penalty in the third period.
In goal, Francouz was once again amazing, stopping 30 of 31, while McCormick and Nicolas Meloche provided the only offense needed for the win. Agozzino extended his personal point streak to 10 (9g, 8a), and a few days later, the 28-year-old was promoted to the Avalanche and has been with the team since.
Game 5 - Mar 8th - 1-0 @ San Diego Gulls
Usually the Eagles play an exciting, dramatic, and almost reckless brand of hockey, but in this road game, they were downright boring. The Eagles won the shot battle by four, out-shooting the Gulls a meager 28-24, they took a relatively tame four penalties in the game, and the only goal scored on the night came off the stick of Toninato. In net, Francouz got his third shutout of the season.
Game 6 - Feb 9th - 2-0 @ San Diego Gulls
Game two against the Anaheim Ducks affiliate was also boring, but only slightly more so. The Eagles once again out-shot their opponents 30-28 and only took two penalties all night. Avalanche prospect Spencer Martin was in net for Colorado and got himself the shutout and third win in only five starts since March 2nd.
On offense, Greer and his linemates Toninato and Tim McGauley provided the offense, with Greer getting a goal and assisting on McGauley’s game-opening goal. That trio combined for nine shots on the night, which far and away led the team.
Game 7 - Mar 12th - 5-1 vs Ontario Reign
For the third straight game, Colorado was not only able to out-shoot their opponents, but also keep the penalties low. They used the 44-28 masacre on the shot clock to great advantage as they kicked the LA Kings affiliate to a 5-1 victory on home ice. Fun fact, this Reign team has Matt Moulson on it somehow.
The offense in this game was spread across the lineup, but defenseman Kevin Davis led the way with two goals and an assist, knocking his point totals from 1g, 10a, to 3g, 11a. Greer, Mason Geertsen, and Julius Nantel also contributed in the win. Francouz, once again, stopped 27 of 28 for the win.
Game 8 - Mar 13th - 3-2 vs Ontario Reign
Remember what I said about keeping the game tame? Yeah, well the Eagles and Reign didn’t do that in this game. There were five events in the game that resulted in coincidental minors or fighting majors. But at the end of the night, the Eagles had out-shot the Reign (35-33) and come away with the 3-2 OT win. Avalanche top prospect Martin Kaut was the hero in this one, scoring the overtime winner.
It wasn’t a perfect night for the Eagles, who had a two-goal lead after two periods, but collapsed late in the third period to force overtime.
Game 9 - Mar 16th - 3-2 @ San Jose Barracuda
The Barracuda are one of the two other teams tied with the Eagles for second in the Pacific division, and they proved to be fierce opponents in this game on the road. The two sides played to a constricting game that only featured 48 shots (23-25) and five power plays (3-2).
The Eagles were generally outplayed for much of the night, but they used a strong second period to put up three goals on 11 shots, which they carried to the win. Logan O’Connor led the way with the teams first goal and the primary assist on the game-winning goal. O’Connor had five shots on his own during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
The next night, the Eagles lost 9-0 to the Barracuda. Brutal irony. But hey, don’t cry that it’s over, be happy that it happened. Their next game is Friday March 22nd at home to the Manitoba Moose. If you’re in the area, go check out game one of the next winning streak!