The Colorado Eagles dropped the opener of a 6-game home stand to the Alaska Aces 2-1 in a shootout in front of 5,289 fans. Goaltending was the story of the game, as both goalies had over 30 saves. Early on, however, it seemed as if it may be a high-scoring affair, when the Eagles tied the game at one just 6:42 into the opening period.
The Aces got on the board first when forward Chris Francis scored 5:03 into the game to make it 1-0. Francis fired a perfect shot from the mid-slot area that just went underneath the blocker of Colorado Eagles goalie Clarke Saunders.
The Eagles were not distraught with the early goal as they would tie the score up less than two minutes later. Colorado forward Nathan Moon made a perfect pass that landed just out of the reach of the Aces defender who was frantically trying to get back to stop the play from developing. The pass sent Brock Nixon on a breakaway, and he made a nice move that beat Alaska Aces netminder Troy Redmann just underneath the blocker. The tying tally was the 24th on the season for the Manitoba native, and brought the crowd to life. For Moon it was his 25th assist of the season, which ranks second on the team.
It was an extremely physical, face-paced game, but one in which the refs let the teams play rough. There were only 20 combined penalty minutes, 10 of which came from fighting majors late in the 3rd period. Both teams failed to convert on multiple chances right in front of the net. Colorado had a whopping 41 shots on goal and visiting Alaska had 32.
Both teams missed chance after chance, missing the net on shots from the point and from the slot. After the game, Eagles coach Chris Stewart said that he was happy with his team’s puck possession but gave Alaska goalie Troy Redmann credit. Redmann stopped 40 shots.
Alaska finally took home the victory in the shootout. The Aces took the early lead, when Chris Francis scored on the team’s first attempt of the shootout. This followed a stop by goalie Troy Redmann on Taylor Vause’s attempt. In round two Brock Nixon was stopped on his attempt, but forward Tim Coffman made a nice move on the backhand that went just past the outstretched arm of Saunders and into the net to put Alaska up 2-0. Derek Rodwell cut the deficit in half on a nifty move to start round three, but that was the last successful attempt either team would have. Both goalies tightened up in the shootout, much to the disappointment of the Colorado Eagles fans, who left with their team falling 2-1.
Stewart seemed unhappy his team didn’t come away with the extra point in the standings, saying “you work hard for 65 minutes and leave knowing that you should come away with the two points.” The Eagles trail the conference-leading Allen Americans by 7 points in the standings.
The Eagles and Aces will meet again Friday night at Budweiser Events Center.
By Luke Price