Eagles Net Four in the Third Period to Defeat Thunder, 7-4
LOVELAND, CO. - Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead and added four goals in the third period to defeat the Wichita Thunder, 7-4 on Friday. Eagles forward Ryan Olsen scored a pair of goals, while Lukas Hafner grabbed the win in goal, stopping 28 of the 32 shots thrown his way. Colorado finished the night going 1-for-3 on the power play and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill to preserve the victory.
Colorado snagged the early advantage when forward Michael Joly wrapped around the net before firing the puck into the crease, where defenseman Collin Bowman would tap it home. The goal gave the Eagles the 1-0 advantage at the 10:12 mark of the first period.
The lead would grow in the final minutes of the period when defenseman Teigan Zahn caught the Thunder in a change and skated through the left circle before unleashing a slapshot that would beat Wichita goalie Shane Starrett to put the Eagles on top 2-0 with 1:31 left in the opening period of play.
The second period would start with a bang for Colorado, as Olsen would drive through the slot on the power play before swatting a puck past Starrett to make it a 3-0 Eagles lead just 1:56 into the middle frame.
Wichita would quickly steal the momentum, scoring three goals in less than seven minutes to knot the score. The swing would start when forward Mark MacMillan buried a wrister from between the circles on a delayed penalty to trim the Wichita deficit to 3-1 at the 2:58 mark of the second period. Less than four minutes later the Thunder would pull back within a goal when forward Ryan Van Stralen split a pair of Eagles defenders in neutral ice and snapped the puck into the back of the net from the slot to cut Colorado's lead to 3-2. Forward Ralph Cuddemi would then track down a loose puck on top of the crease and lift the puck past Hafner to tie the game at 3-3 at the 9:25 mark of the middle frame.
With the game tied at 3-3 heading into the third period, the Eagles would hop back on top when forward Brady Shaw zipped a shot from the right circle that would weave its way through traffic and into the back of the net to give Colorado the 4-3 edge at the 10:46 mark of the period.
The Thunder would summon an answer just 22 seconds later when a turnover deep in the Eagles zone would set up Cuddemi to light the lamp from the top of the crease, tying the game at 4-4.
Colorado would again jump into the driver's seat when defenseman Jake Marto unleashed a shot from the blue line that would catch the right leg pad of Starrett before rolling into the back of the net, giving the Eagles the 5-4 lead with 7:22 remaining in the contest.
Olsen would add a bit of insurance less than a minute later when he collected a rebound in the low-slot and rifled the puck into the cage to make it a 6-4 advantage. Wichita would pull Starrett in favor of the extra attacker, but Colorado would be the one to generate a goal when forward Drayson Bowman backhanded the puck all the way down the ice and into the empty net. The tally cemented the 7-4 victory for the Eagles with only 27 seconds left in the contest.
The Eagles return to action when they wrap-up the regular season against the Wichita Thunder at the Budweiser Events Center in on Saturday, April 7th at 7:05pm MT.
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