Eagles lose game one, face elimination


LOVELAND, Colo. — The Colorado Eagles have now made the playoffs every season that they have played except once. It is a winning tradition that they would love to keep alive tonight against the Abbotsford Canucks. A few championship banners hang in the rafters at Blue Arena, the last from 2018 as members of the ECHL. The last two games that the Eagles played against Abbotsford, the Canucks took charge and won both in Loveland. Tonight, the Eagles struggled to find their game and couldn’t establish a rhythm in the offensive zone and now face elimination. And it cost them. Here are my takeaways from the 4–2 loss to the Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday night.


— The Eagles could not get any sustained pressure in the Canucks’ zone. They had their moments, but Colorado did not have a time where they had to make any changes on the fly. When they were fully engaged, several players had difficulty maintaining control of the puck. The forecheck (except for one play) in the offensive zone was almost non-existent as well.

“It looked like we were a little nervous,” said head coach Aaron Scneekloth. “I felt like, didn’t see big pockets of our structure and our pace and our skating. It looked like we were on our heels a bit, trying to make perfect plays. And I gotta give a lot of credit to habits for putting a lot of pressure on us forces into making some decisions we usually can handle and make some mistakes, few individual errors and coverage and Instructure that gave them some big opportunities.”

— The power play converted on its first attempt and went silent afterwards. The first power play that Colorado had in the game started out very slow. It even was getting some screams from the fans as passes were not connecting. With under ten seconds left, Cal Burke could finish the attempt. After that, their second, third and fourth power plays were in shambles. They could not enter the zone and passes did not connect. Only a few shots made it to the net to cause a problem for Abbotsford.

Cal Burke

— Cal Burke has been a bright light at the end of the season despite everything that he has gone through. Burke had to leave the team several times because his mother had passed away from cancer. Despite this, he has always had a smile on his face in the hallways and talks. In his last ten games, Burke has 11 points (four goals and seven assists). He has brought a spark to the offense that has been necessary.

“He’s been outstanding,” said Schneekloth. “I mean, for the adversity that he’s gone through this year, to stay focused and keep his mind right when he shows up to the rink is credit to who he is as a person. How serious he takes his game and how he wants to maximize his performance every single night. He’s the guy that lays it out on the ice every single shift.”


The Eagles now face elimination with the loss in a best of three series. They will have to put their nerves aside and meet the Canucks every step of the way on Friday night. If they do not, their season is over. The Eagles need more sustained pressure in the zone and to play a heavier game as well. Coach Schneekloth should have nothing to be ashamed of this season. He stepped into a role, knowing the challenges, and took them head on. He led Colorado to a fourth place finish in the division and kept the playoff streak alive.


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