Tufte tallies hat trick as Eagles reign over Ontario


LOVELAND, Colo. — Blue Arena was filled with excitement on Friday night. After a long road trip and the Colorado Eagles in a funk, the game against the Ontario Reign was the perfect way to get back into the swing of things.

The Eagles secured a 5–3 win over Ontario, outshooting the Reign 38–25. Riley Tufte unsurprisingly stole the show after netting three goals to secure a hat trick, with two goals in the last period of the game.

First period

The first period did not begin to heat up until the last five minutes on the clock. Sam Malinski’s pass to D.J. Busdeker broke the scoring open, and the Eagles secured the 1–0 lead.

“D.J. Busdeker has been patiently waiting for an opportunity to get in the lineup and the speed shown and did a great job on the forecheck and was rewarded early in the night with the goal,” head coach Aaron Schneekloth said.

The advantage did not last long, as former Eagle Charles Hudon got past Justus Annunen to bring the game back to a tie at 1–1.

There were obvious differences between the two teams, the most important being the physical size of the players. The Reign towered over the Eagles, and Colorado was required to play a heavier game.

Though the Eagles had 13 shots throughout the first frame, they missed several scoring opportunities by passing an unnecessary number of times instead of firing a shot into the crease.

Second period

The second period revealed a new team. The Eagles took a more aggressive approach and stopped avoiding the puck, giving them better chances to test Ontario’s goalie.

The home team did not waste any time getting on the board, as Tufte fired a shorthanded goal to secure his first point of the night with assistance from Joel Kiviranta and Caleb Jones.

Only one minute later and on the same penalty kill, Henry Bowlby followed suit and scored a second shorthanded goal, bringing the score to 3–1.

The Reign left the first goal unanswered, but fired the puck into the crease and closed the margin and brought the game within one at 3–2.

Third period

The Colorado Eagles had finally found their groove and were more relaxed on the ice in the last frame, where Tufte excelled.

At 7:52, he scored his second goal of the contest on a power play, followed by his hat trick goal at 18:37. Tanner Kero, Kiviranta and Brad Hunt assisted his goals.

“Well, he’s playing the game the right way,” Schneekloth said. “I mean, he’s not cheating on the offensive side of things. He’s playing strong defensive hockey, he’s making sure he’s in good position on breakouts and then he’s getting in there. He’s a big, long guy with a huge range. He’s able to jar some pucks loose and then use his big frame to protect him and he’s not afraid to shoot the puck and go to the hard areas and right now he’s being rewarded for his efforts.”

Ontario scored their third and final goal 11:57 minutes into the last period, but the comeback effort was too little, too late, with the Eagles holding on for the 5–3 decision.

Colorado will play the Reign on Saturday before taking on the Henderson Silver Knights on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Despite lineup changes from injuries, the Eagles quickly adapted to the Reign’s speed and style, especially on the penalty kill.

Though not able to execute on the power play previously, Colorado showed significant improvement with the advantage.

With the Henderson Silver Knights (7–2–0) on the horizon, the Eagles are on the right track to turn the rest of the season into a success.

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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