Eagles Soar over Gorillas 7-2 in Final Regular Season Meeting
LOVELAND, CO - The Gorillas received two goals from winger Joe Guenther and a pair of assists from Central Hockey League points-leader Derek Hahn but were still unable to figure out the defending-champion Colorado Eagles, who used nine different scorers to beat Amarillo 7-2 in front of their 95th consecutive sellout crowd of 5,289 fans at the Budweiser Events Center.
The Eagles jumped on the scoreboard almost immediately against Gorillas tender Shawn Degagne as defenseman Erik Adams, positioned at the top of the slot, took a perfect pass from veteran Ryan Tobler and put in his eighth goal of the season for a 1-0 Colorado lead only 38 seconds into the first period. Parillo wasn't done there; less than six minutes later, the winger stole the puck in the neutral zone and traveled 1-on-2 down the ice with his team short-handed and still managed to score on Degagne while falling to the ice. The goal was his 12th and fourth against Amarillo, giving Colorado a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game.
The Gorillas cut the deficit in half with just over five minutes remaining in the opening frame on a controversial goal by Guenther. With a lot of traffic in front of Paulo Colaiacovo's net, the cage came off its bearings just as the puck passed over the goal-line but it was ruled the puck first crossed the line, giving Guenther his 19th goal and first of the game. Assists went to Derek Hahn, his league-leading 56th and Kevin Wilson, his career-high 16th. After one period, Colorado led 2-1.
The Eagles managed another goal just over five minutes into the second as Jason Lundmark scored his seventh goal of the season with his team riding a brief 6-on-5 advantage and a power-play looming. The man-advantage did not prove necessary given the score. Forwards Riley Nelson and Scott Polaski had the assists.
Guenther again narrowed the Colorado lead to a goal with his 20th of the season and 17th as a Gorilla in only 27 games. The goal came with just 13 seconds remaining on a 5-on-3 power-play advantage. Hahn again tallied an assist, bringing his league-leading point-total to 87, five ahead of Youngstown's Jeff Christian with four games-in-hand.
The most devastating blow for Amarillo came with only 38 seconds left in the second. Amarillo, again on the man-advantage, turned the puck over to Colorado captain Greg Pankewicz, who took the puck in himself on Degagne and scored the Eagles' second short-handed goal of the game. It was his team-leading 32nd goal and first of two on the night. That gave Colorado a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
The third period belonged entirely to the Eagles, scoring three times, first by Pankewicz and then a pair for Polaski, giving each man a three-point night to lead all scorers. After the second goal of the period, Polaski's first, Degagne's frustration mounted and he went after Fraser Filipic, who had apparently speared the tender earlier in the game. Degagne received a quick 15 penalty minutes and was asked to leave the game. He stopped 25 of 31 shots in 45:49 minutes of work, bringing on Jamie Vandespyker. He stopped six of seven Colorado attempts in 14:11, the lone goal allowed to Polaski with just 35 seconds to play in the game. When all was said and done, Colorado bested Amarillo 7-2.
Degagne's record dropped to 15-12-2 on the season while Colaiacovo improved to 21-7-2 behind 32 saves. Amarillo was out-shot 38-34 for the game, 18-11 in the final frame.
Each team scored one power-play goal, the Gorillas in six attempts and the Eagles in five. Amarillo had 30 penalty minutes to Colorado's 19.
The Gorillas played short two players with defensemen Gerard Miller and Mark Strzoda missing the trip. Trevor Socholotuk moved from forward back to defense. Miller is expected to miss the next couple of weeks with a knee injury suffered in the second period of Friday's overtime win against Bossier-Shreveport. Meanwhile, Strzoda suffered a dizzy spell that caused him to sustain some cuts the evening prior to the trip.
Despite the loss, the Gorillas managed to tie the season-series with the Eagles, going 3-3-0, 3-2-1 for Colorado.
The Gorillas now sit at 24-20-3 with 51 points, 12 points behind Southwest leader Odessa and eight ahead of Lubbock. The Gorillas still qualify for the fourth and final Southern Conference playoff spot, two points behind Austin and two in front of Rio Grande Valley. Amarillo also holds games-in-hand on Odessa (1), Austin (4) and Rio Grande Valley (1), while even with Lubbock.
Amarillo Gorillas Hockey Presented by NewsChannel 10 will be broadcast on The New KPUR 107.1 FM Friday night from the Ector County Coliseum with Gorillas Pre-Game against Odessa set to begin at 6:45 pm. The game will also be available at www.amarillogorillas.com and on CHLTV (www.chltv.com). The broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday will return to 1440 AM The Score, both games live from Lubbock.
Great seats are still available to all upcoming home games! Tickets for Gorillas games can be purchased at the Gorillas Hockey Office, located at 1934 Civic Circle off of I-40 and Georgia, the Civic Center Box Office and all Panhandle Ticket Outlets. These include Randy's Music Mart, the West Texas Event Center in Canyon and United Supermarkets. Tickets can also be charged by phone at (806) 378-3096 or (806) 242-PUCK (7825).
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