LOVELAND, Colo. – After Friday night’s third period collapse and ultimate 4-2 defeat, the Colorado Eagles looked to respond to the Henderson Silver Knights on Saturday.
And, they needed to do so without their only goal scorer from the evening before.
Jayson Megna was recalled by the Colorado Avalanche after scoring two goals in Friday night’s game. The forward’s absence meant that a large portion of the Eagles’ offense would be missing on the top line; rookie Charlie Gerard filled in alongside other first-liners T.J. Tynan and Shane Bowers.
Play began with Colorado looking to quickly atone for the previous evening’s loss, coming out strong and fast against a stingy Henderson defense. The Eagles rattled off the first three shots on goal, but were then met with eight of the next nine shots coming from Henderson. The Silver Knights’ seventh shot on goal came from Russian revelation Pavel Dorofeyev at 7:30 of the first, giving Henderson an early 1-0 lead.
Four minutes of game time later, Colorado found themselves on the first power play of the contest. The Eagles had potted two power play goals on 38 chances heading into this man advantage — a 5.3% conversion rate that sat last in the AHL. Ian Scheid helped the Eagles’ slumping special teams, netting his first professional goal by wristing a shot by Henderson netminder Logan Thompson at 11:49 of period one.
Shane Bowers almost made it 2-1 Colorado shortly after the Scheid goal, but a well-timed poke check by a Silver Knights defender prevented the driving Bowers from lobbing the puck on net. The first period ended with both clubs knotted at 1-1.
The Silver Knights came out swinging in the second, as a Patrick Brown deflection on an initial Jimmy Schuldt shot from deep made it 2-1, Henderson, at just 0:52 into the second. The period went back and forth, with both clubs trading shots and minor penalties, but no goals to show for either side.
The next tally didn’t come until Dylan Sikura found his fourth goal in as many games at 15:59 of the second period. Sikura created a turnover in the Eagles zone, then skated uncontested towards the middle between the faceoff circles. A wrist shot past Colorado goaltender Adam Werner gave the Silver Knights a 3-1 lead.
The Eagles couldn’t stop the bleeding, either, as Lucas Elvenes added another Henderson goal at 18:57 of period two. Elvenes found himself in a 2-on-1 one chance, passing the puck across to another Silver Knights attacker. When the puck was deflected into the air by Colorado defenseman Kevin Davis, Elvenes swatted the puck out of the air and into the back of the net to make it 4-1, Henderson.
The third period yielded an increased effort by the Eagles to get something going on offense, but the first-ranked defense of the Silver Knights did not allow any momentum to come to fruition. Whether in the face of limited shots on goal during Henderson’s back checks, or Thompson standing tall and denying quality shots on net, Colorado could not break through on the score sheet.
In the latter half of the third, an exchange typified the night for Colorado. When forward Miikka Salomaki got his helmet knocked off in front of Henderson’s net, Colorado’s Liam O’Brien and Henderson’s Jermaine Loewen had a confrontation. After some shoving, Loewen chose not to engage and simply gestured towards the scoreboard.
The Silver Knights didn’t need to fight. The battle had already been won, and the 4-1 score would go final.