Kovalenko makes North American debut with Eagles


LOVELAND, Colo. — The Colorado Eagles looked more like themselves tonight against the San Diego Gulls. With a few fresh faces in the locker room, but one that really mattered. Nikolai Kovalenko made his North American debut for the Eagles tonight. This has been one of the most anticipated debuts in the organization in quite some time. With some injuries also returning to the lineup with Jason Polin, Colorado was looking to battle back into a home ice spot for the playoffs. The Eagles have been struggling on a few things lately, but tonight was a reset. Here are my takeaways from the 6–0 victory over the San Diego Gulls.


— Kovalenko is vicious around the net. Given the opportunity, he loves to go right for a screen around the net. The defense would, of course, beat him up, but Kovalenko was good at taking the punishment. His speed through the zone is getting there, since he looks like he is still adjusting to the altitude. Kovalenko’s hands are fast and deceptive. The Russian-American can slip a puck between his legs with ease. And last but not least, his vision is impeccable. He sees a play coming before it there.

“He was tenacious on the forecheck and he had a great stick,” said head coach Aaron Scneekloth. “I thought he worked in space really well and created a lot of offense. I kept his game pretty simple but took advantage of some opportunities when he saw them and made a lot of really nice plays offensively for us.”

— The Eagles snapped a zero for 26 slump on the power play. Tonight, they took advantage of the one opportunity they were given by moving the puck well. They had a few shots and finally converted as Cal Burke slammed his second of the night in. Tonight they looked as if they went back to the basics and it worked.

— Arvid Holm was stellar in only his third start in the AHL since January 20th. Holm unfortunately lost the goalie battle with Trent Miner when Justus Annunen went down to injury, but took advantage tonight. The Swedish goaltender earned his first shutout of the season to help the Eagles crawl back to fourth place in the Pacific Division.


With the win, the Eagles slid back into the fourth spot in the division and back into a home ice position. As of right now, they have designated Loveland as the location for all three games of a best of three. If Colorado can beat San Diego again tomorrow, that will only help their case. Maybe the Colorado Avalanche could recall Kovalenko, but I think giving him one more game would be the best option. Colorado holds their own fate in their hands as they play the Gulls tomorrow night at 7pm.




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