Eagles Clinch Playoff Spot with 5-4 SO win in Lubbock
Lubbock, Tx - The Colorado Eagles clinched a playoff spot in the Central Hockey League's Northern Conference the hard way Friday night at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum. The Eagles scored a pair of goals 1:12 apart with 1:37 remaining to force overtime and a Garrett Larson shootout goal in the final round of the shootout proved the difference in a 5-4 come from behind win for the Eagles over the Lubbock Cotton Kings. The hard luck overtime loss places the Kings record at 22-26-4 and they fall to 9 standing-points behind Rio Grande Valley for the final playoff spot in the Southern Conference.
Lubbock entered the third period leading the Eagles 4-2, but the top rated Eagles flexed their muscles. Brad Williamson shoveled the puck past Kings goaltender Brett Koscielny from the left slot to give the Eagles life in the final 1:37 and cutting the lead to 4-3. The Eagles then pulled starting goaltender Jeff Blair with 1:12 remaining and the move paid off, as Greg Pankewicz flew past a Kings defenseman on the left side and launched a rocket into the top shelf with 25-secondsw remaining to tie the game 4-4. In overtime, the Eagles kept pressuring and had several of golden opportunities, but Koscielny was able to make some heroic saves. Blair ended up going down with 1:04 remaining in overtime and had to be replaced by Paulo Colaiacovo. In the shootout, Williamson scored for Colorado and Jon Foster matched the goal in the second round. Colaicovo stopped Lubbock's Bobby Brown and Kyle Nosan, while Koscielny stoned Nick Parillo and Pankewicz heading into the fifth round. The fifth round proved to be the decicive round as Jan Melichercik could not match Garret Larson's goal and the Eagles stole the victory away from the Kings.
The last time Blair was in net was on January 18, which ironically was the last time the two teams faced off against each other. In that contest, Blair stopped 54 of the Kings 56 shots for the victory. The same would not be said in this contest. Mike Brolsma lit the lamp just 1:36 into the game on a shot from the right circle on the Kings first shot on goal. The Cotton Kings extended their lead to 2-0 6:08 later on the power play. Nolan Graham popped in a rebound from the right slot past Blair for his 13th power play goal and first point against the Eagles this season. Colorado cut the Kings lead to 2-1 with 1:55 remaining in the opening frame with a goal by Garrett Larson. The Eagles forward was able to chase down his own rebound atop the slots and backhand it past the glove of goaltender Brett Koscielny. Lubbock would regain their two-goal advantage 1:34 later with Bobby Brown collecting a power play goal off Matt McDonald's rebound in the left circle. Lubbock went 2 for 2 on the power play in the period and out-shot the Eagles 18-8 in the period.
Colorado opened the second period scoring cutting the lead back to a one-goal margin at 3-2 5:47 into the period. Greg Pankewicz, Colorado's scoring leader, grabbed a rebound high in the left circle and fired it into the net past a sprawled out Koscielny, who was still looking for the rebound. Like the first period, Lubbock wasted no time getting their two-goal lead back. Matt McDonald, with not much of an angle from the left wing boards, flung a shot on net that snuck through traffic and over the shoulder of Blair for his first goal since November 8th. The goal was tallied 42-seconds after Pankewicz's goal to give the Kings a 4-2 advantage.
Colaiacovo ended up with the win in net to go to 24-8-2 on the season. Koscielny suffered his first overtime loss of his career and his record moved to 7-10-1. Lubbock finished the night 2 for 5 on the power play, while Colorado finished 1 for 4.
The Cotton Kings close out the weekend Saturday night hosting the Amarillo Gorillas at the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum.
• Discuss this story on the Central Hockey League message board...
Central Hockey League Stories from March 3, 2006
- Eagles Clinch Playoff Spot with 5-4 SO win in Lubbock - Lubbock Cotton Kings
- RiverKings end winless streak with shootout win - Mississippi RiverKings
- Bucks beat Rayz 2-1 in shootout - Corpus Christi IceRays
- Bucks Beat Rayz 2-1 In Shootout, Clinch Fourth Straight Playoff Berth - Laredo Bucks
- Hounds lose to Memphis - Youngstown SteelHounds
- Dahl Player of the Month - Tulsa Oilers
- Sher-Wood CHL Player & Goaltender of the Month Announced - CHL
- Golf with the Rayz this Sunday - Corpus Christi IceRays
- Ford Turnpike Series Concludes - Tulsa Oilers
- Cotton Kings Game Night Preview vs. Colorado - Lubbock Cotton Kings
- Killer Bees game notes - Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.