The Colorado Eagles once again fell to the visiting Alaska Aces, this time 3-1. The game had a very similar feel to Wednesday night’s game, as physical play and goaltending were the story. The refs let both teams play a hard-hitting game again on the forecheck and the backcheck, which kept the crowd involved when the lack of early scoring couldn’t.
After a scoreless first and second period, Alaska’s Brad Cole got the scoring started at 3:10 of the third period with a beauty of a goal just past the right blocker of Clarke Saunders, who sprawled out but could not make the kick save. Eric Higby had taken a shot that Saunders had made a nice save on, but the rebound bounced out to Cole who fired it home for his seventh goal of the season.
Colorado answered right back by scoring on a 3-on-1 break by Kyle Kraemer, his 8th of the year. The goal had an eerie similarity to the Aces first goal as Trent Daavtilla’s shot was saved by Alaska Aces goalie Troy Redmann, but the rebound landed right on the stick of Kraemer who tipped it in to tie the game at one just 6:38 into the third period.
Colorado had numerous chances to break the tie in the 3rd but, as was the story Wednesday night, Troy Redmann stood on his head in net, turning away shot after shot. He ended the night with 27 saves. On the other end of the ice, Eagles goalie Clarke Saunders was equally as good, stoning Alaska 32 out of 34 attempts.
The dagger came late in the third for the Aces when Curt Gogol ripped a wrist shot past Saunders for his 12th goal on the season at 18:35 of the third. His goal was assisted by Tim Coffman and Chris Francis. The Aces added an empty-netter at 19:36 to seal the game and leave the Budweiser Events Center with another victory.
The two teams were a combined 0-9 on the power play, and are a combined 0-14 through the first two games of this series. The inability of the Colorado Eagles to get their power-play on track has been especially troubling, as they have never led in either of the first two games of the series. A holding call gave them the man advantage a little over halfway through the third period, but they came away empty-handed, and that seemed to ignite the Alaska Aces.
The play of the two teams’ goalies has been unbelievable thus far. Redmann has been a wall between the pipes for Alaska, stopping 67 of 69 shots through the first two games. Saunders has been nearly as brilliant, recording 63 saves in 66 opportunities.
Alaska’s win brings them to 57 points on the season. The loss for the Eagles coupled with the Idaho Steelheads win (5-4 over Bakersfield in a shootout) means the Eagles were leapfrogged in the division standings by the Idaho Steelheads. The Eagles are now second in the division and third in the Western Conference with 71 points. Colorado and Alaska match-up for the series finale Saturday night.