The Colorado Eagles showed why they’re the defending Kelly Cup Champions Saturday night at the Maverik Center. Although the Utah Grizzlies would outshoot the Eagles by a large margin, Colorado tallied a trio of goals until the Grizzlies finally broke through. Behind the strength of stellar goaltending by Joe Canaata and a pair of goals by J.C. Beaudin and Micheal Joly, the Eagles once again broke the hearts of Utah fans in overtime, claiming a 4-3 victory and sweeping the two-game series.
Things were looking extremely dire for the Grizzlies through the first 30 minutes. Trailing 3-0, Utah refused to go quietly into the night. Ryan Olsen, from behind the net, found an open teammate in Taylor Richart who blazed the back of the net. Shortly after, a two-on-one breakaway was successful as Brad Navin fed Zach Saar, who scored his third goal of the season. Once Mitch Jones broke through in the third, Utah had scratched and clawed their way back and it was anyone’s hockey game.
Turning Point: Utah struggled on the defensive end, particularly on special teams. The Eagles capitalized on two power-play opportunities in the first two periods when J.C. Beaudin and Michael Joly secured an early 2-0 lead for Colorado.
First star: If Eagles forward Michael Joly continues his torrid pace of goal scoring, he won’t remain in the ECHL much longer. Joly notched his 12th goal of the season on a power-play laser from the blue line, and his 13th in overtime was a heartbreaker for the home team.
Second star: Colorado forward J.C. Beaudin was a one-man wrecking crew in the first period. Connecting on a pair of goals less than two minutes apart, Beaudin overwhelmed Utah goalie Kevin Carr.
Third star: It’s not often that a defenseman leads his team in goals scored, but that’s exactly what Taylor Richart has done for Utah. Breathing life into the Grizzlies, Richart began the scoring for the home team, collecting his seventh goal of the season.
Quoteworthy: “To be honest, our team outplayed theirs both games,” head coach Tim Branham said. “The difference was goaltending. Their goalie (Canaata) doesn’t belong at this level. They have guys, though, that know how to put the puck into the back of the net.”
What’s Next: The Manchester Monarchs visit the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday.