Colorado Eagles clinch bid to Calder Cup playoffs


LOVELAND, Colo. — The last two days in Colorado sports have been eventful and full of high-risk games. Last night, the Colorado Avalanche fell to the New York Rangers 3–2 in a shootout and missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

The Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the Avalanche, had the opportunity to clinch a bid to postseason if they did things right. To do so, they needed to pick up a point against the Abbotsford Canucks or put their faith in the Tucson Roadrunners losing to the San Diego Gulls.

The Eagles had a record of 4–1–1–0 record for the 2023-24 season, so the chances of the team securing at least one point were in their favor.

After a very physical and hard-fought game, Colorado fell to the Canucks in overtime with a 2–1 score at the 1:30 mark.

Even though the home team didn’t secure a victory, they still clinched a spot in the race for the Calder Cup.

The good

Even after being on a nine day break, the Eagles came out of the gate fast, but the Canucks matched pace with them. After being stuck in a toe-to-toe battle during the first period, Ondrej Pavel turned the course of the game in a positive direction while Colorado was working on a penalty kill.

With Chris Wagner in the box for holding and the Canucks holding a 16.9% success rate with the man advantage, Pavel took the puck into the offensive zone and put Colorado ahead by one at the 12-minute mark.

The relentless offensive drive was prevalent in this game and Colorado far outshot the Canucks. In the first period, both teams had six shots, but the Eagles took the lead with 8–2 in the second period and 11–5 in the third period.

Despite the outcome, not giving up in the face of a competitive goalie will be key in the quickly approaching postseason.

The bad

Like most losses the Eagles have this season, penalties are a huge contributor. They racked up six penalties for 12 minutes in the box.

Three penalties were for roughing, which Riley Tufte seems to take part in often.

However, the physicality of the game as a good warm-up for what is coming in the playoffs.

“I think every team in our division is really good,” he said. “So they’re always going to be tight games. You know, there being so many games left, they’re gonna try to get amped up for playoffs. I think everything’s gonna be like that. So, you’ve got to find a way to win those games. And I think overall we played really well.”

To go on a successful playoff run, the Eagles will need to work on not letting their opponents convert on the shots they take. Colorado had 11 more shots on the net, yet still fell 2–1.

While the first goal wasn’t a direct consequence of Ivan Prosvetov’s goaltending, the puck went right between his legs for the overtime winner.

Once the Eagles tighten up their playing and stay out of the box, the success will continue to follow.

What’s next?

Colorado will take on the Abbotsford Canucks for the last time tomorrow, March 30.

With a win, they will be able to jump to second place in the conference. The team is now competing for the home ice advantage, which, according to Head Coach Aaron Schneekloth, makes a night and day difference.

“It’s huge,” he said. “I mean, look at our home record. The support we get here, the energy [the fans] provide us every single night, the revenue would help with the organization. It’s a big deal playing on home ice in the playoffs. Our fans deserve to see extra games and the players deserve to step on the ice in front of the greatest fans in the world.”

The final 11 games are going to be vital for the standings. The Eagles have been in a constant battle between the Roadrunners and the Ontario Reign for the second place seed.


Head Coach Aaron Schneekloth


Forward Riley Tufte

About Savvy Rafkin

Savvy is a recent Journalism and Media Communication graduate from Colorado State University. She spent most of her life playing softball and being surrounded by sports. As she entered college, she found her passion for sports writing and joined the Colorado State University Athletic Communications team. Later, she became a beat reporter for high school sports in northern Colorado.


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