Ice cap off season in thrilling fashion
The 2003-2004 regular season came to a conclusion on Sunday night and oh, what a thrilling game it was. Indianapolis entered the contest already knowing they were in the playoffs. A win, or by just sending the game into overtime, and the Ice would seal the third seed in the Northern Conference.
Indy completed its task by nailing down a 4-3 shootout victory over the Colorado Eagles. A Pepsi Coliseum crowd of 5,629, all standing in anticipation, witnessed captain Bernie John bury the puck behind Eagle netminder Ryan Bach sending the fans and the Ice players into a fanatic jubilation.
John, started the evening by being presented the Most Valuable Defenseman of the Year and capped it off by sending the Ice to Bossier-Shreveport as the Northern Conferences third seed.
It was like a story book ending, said John. At that point in time, the game was meaningless as far as the standings go, but as a team we really wanted to win this game.
Indys netminding was outstanding once again. Brent Zelenewich followed up his stellar play of Friday night by stealing the game from the Eagles. Zelenewich faced 50 Eagle shots, stopping 47. Many of the netminders stops were simply incredible.
Playing shorthanded once again, Indy stuck with the defensive trap against the high powered Eagles. Colorado, the top seed in the Northern Conference, was well rested after playing in Indy on Friday night and having Saturday off. The Eagles came out storming and continued to apply the heat all night, although Zelenewich was up to the task.
Mike McGhan, Karlis Zirnis and Greg Pankewicz lit the lamp for Colorado on a night when the Eagles could have found the net as many as ten times.
Indianapolis put just 24 shots against Bach, however three crossed the goal mouth in the opening period. Mario Doyon scored his 23rd of the season and 200th of his professional career while Ryan Carter added two goals, including a shorthanded score. Carter ended his sophomore campaign with 17 goals.
The Ice now set their sights on the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs as the two rivals will begin a best-of -five series on Friday night in Louisiana. Game Two of the series will take place next Saturday at Bossier-Shreveport before the series shifts to Indianapolis on Saturday March 27. Should a Game 4 be necessary, it would take place at the Pepsi Coliseum on Sunday March 28. A deciding Game 5 would be played back in Louisiana on Tuesday March 30 if needed.
Just getting into the playoffs was our toughest task, said Ice coach Ken McRae. To get five of a possible six points this weekend and being as short as we were on the bench, showed an awful lot of character.
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Central Hockey League Stories from March 14, 2004
- Ice cap off season in thrilling fashion - OSC Original by Mike Wallin
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