Chase for Kelly Cup 2018: R. 1 – Colorado Eagles vs. Wichita Thunder

Chase for Kelly Cup 2018: R. 1 – Colorado Eagles vs. Wichita Thunder The Chase for the Kelly Cup begins with a Round 1 matchup between the Colorado Eagles and the Wichita Thunder. Colorado finished first in the ECHL’s Mountain Division, while Wichita finished fourth. The Eagles have the fourth best record overall (100 points), while the Thunder are 14th overall (76 points).

Game 1 – Sunday, April 15 at 4:05 p.m. CT at Wichita
Game 2 – Monday, April 16 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Wichita
Game 3 – Wednesday, April 18 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado
Game 4 – Friday, April 20 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado
Game 5 – Saturday, April 21 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado (If Necessary)
Game 6 – Monday, April 23 at 7:05 p.m. CT at Wichita (If Necessary)
Game 7 – Wednesday, April 25 at 7:05 p.m. MT at Colorado (If Necessary)

Statistics Comparison (Numbers in Parenthesis are ranking in the ECHL)

Colorado Eagles:

Overall Record: 48-18-4-2 (4)
Home Record: 27-5-3-1 (1)
Away Record: 21-13-1-1 (6)
Last 10 Games: 8-2-0-0
Goals Scored: 265 (2)
Goals Allowed: 214 (8)
Power Play: 18.2% (8)
Penalty Killing: 85.9% (5)

Wichita Thunder:

Overall Record: 34-30-6-2 (15)
Home Record: 21-12-2-1 (9)
Away Record: 13-18-4-1 (21)
Last 10 Games: 2-6-2-0
Goals Scored: 222 (15)
Goals Allowed: 235 (17)
Power Play: 14.3% (22)
Penalty Killing: 80.1% (23)

Eagles Players to Watch:

Michael Joly: 52 Games, 41 Goals, 26 Assists, 67 Points; Matt Register: 72 Games, 17 Goals, 48 Assists; Drayson Bowman: 65 Games, 20 Goals, 35 Assists, 55 Points

Joe Cannata: 28 Games, 21-5-1-1, 2 ShO, 2.22 GAA, .931 Save Percentage; Lukas Hafner: 20 Games, 13-4-1-1, 3.12 GAA, .897 Save Percentage

Thunder Players to Watch:

Ralph Cuddemi: 69 Games, 33 Goals, 31 Assists, 64 Points; Mark MacMillan: 59 Games, 31 Goals, 27 Assists, 58 Points; Kevin Dufour: 69 Games, 19 Goals, 21 Assists, 40 Points

Shane Starrett: 38 Games, 17-14-3-0, 3.01 GAA, .912 Save Percentage


The Colorado Eagles won the season series 5-1-0-0. That included sweeping the Thunder at home, where Colorado has the best record in the ECHL. The Eagles have the leading goal scorer in the league in Michael Joly and have arguably the best offensive defenseman in Matt Register. That means that Wichita is going to have to get scoring from someone other than Cuddemi, MacMillan and Dufour. A big series out of Brayden Low would be huge, and Jeremy Beaudry and Travis Brown may have to be the best players for this team if they are going to advance.

The loss of goalie Nick Riopel is a huge blow to the Thunder. That puts Shane Starrett as the starter, who was unreal the first half of the season, but has not been same since the All-Star game. He is going to have to win at least one game on his own for the Wichita Thunder to advance.

Chase for Kelly Cup 2018: R. 1 – Colorado Eagles vs. Wichita ThunderWho Will Win:

This could very well be the worst possible first round opponent for the Wichita Thunder. They simply cannot keep up with the Eagles, and Colorado is a potential Kelly Cup finalist every season. This is the Eagles last season in the ECHL, as they move to the AHL next year, so expect them to want to make a statement. Colorado Eagles in 5.

By Robert Pannier