The Colorado Eagles are two wins away from making their first Kelly Cup Finals appearance after a 4-3 overtime victory over the Toledo Walleye at Budweiser Events Center on Wednesday. Forward Julien Nantel scored the game-winner a mere 1:20 into overtime, and forward Alex Belzile continued to add to his ECHL Playoff-leading points total with a goal and an assist in the victory.
Colorado came out of the gate hot in their first game on home ice in the best-of-seven series. Shawn St-Amant deflected a shot from the point just 14 seconds into the contest to give the Eagles the early advantage. Toledo’s Kyle Bonis tied things up on a deflection of his own later in the period to even the score at one. The Walleye took the lead two minutes later on a backhand by Tylor Spink to beat Lukas Hafner, but a hard-work goal from Belzile late in the opening frame leveled things at two after one.
The Eagles outshot Toledo 10-3 in the second period, but both defenses held. Colorado took an early lead in the third when defenseman Sergei Boikov ricocheted a shot off a Walleye defenseman and into the goal. Matt Caito would answer on the power play at the 12:00 minute mark to tie things up. Nantel left little doubt less than 90 seconds into overtime when he buried the game-winning wrister to give Colorado the 2-1 series advantage.
Colorado can close out the series at home with a pair of wins Friday and Saturday night. A split or worse in those two games will send the series back to Toledo for potential Games 6 and 7. The winner will face either the Manchester Monarchs or the South Carolina Stingrays representing the Eastern Conference in the Kelly Cup Finals. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m MDT on Friday.
Featured Image Credit: Colorado Eagles, Standout Imagery