It’s their final season in the ECHL, and the Colorado Eagles are showing no signs of slowing down at the midway point of the season. Currently on top of the ECHL standings, the Eagles continue to show why they are the league’s defending champions.
A resounding 8-1 victory over the Rapid City Rush on Saturday night moved the Eagles to 28-5-4 on the season. Colorado is currently riding an eight-game winning streak.
There are a few reasons why the Eagles continue to be a dominant force in the ECHL — their depth is impressive, they have several new players who are standing out, and they have a goalie tandem that has worked out for them.
Most minor-league teams rely heavily on their top line to control games. However, the Eagles have been able to find success across the entire team, as offensive contributions seem to be coming easily to this highly-skilled team.
Fifteen different skaters tallied points in the blowout victory over Rapid City on Saturday. At the midway point of the season, 16 different skaters have scored double-digit points for Colorado and eight have 20-plus points.
With plenty of veteran talent coming over during the offseason, the Eagles are a perfect mixture of youth and veterans, allowing them to continue to be one of the fastest teams in the league while also having plenty of experience to lead the charge and teach the newcomers.
An important new member of the Eagles, but not a new member of the ECHL — he played for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits during the 2016-17 season — is leading goal-scorer Michael Joly.
The Eagles are happy to have this high-powered scorer on their team, as Joly leads the league with 43 points. Due to his success with the Eagles, Joly has been called up to the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage on multiple occasions this season.
Brand new to the team this season, Joey Ratelle embodies the identity that the Eagles want to play with. The forward is relentless, fearless, and extremely skilled.
Although Ratelle is not necessarily tearing up the league with 19 points in 35 games played, he has quickly become a statement player who has quickly become a fan favorite among the loyal Eagles fanbase.
Now in the middle of his first season of professional hockey, the DU alumnus is quickly adjusting to the style of play of the ECHL — and the Eagles organization and the fans are beginning to take notice.
Although he is not leading the team in his first season, he has been able to prove himself defensively, while also contributing with 11 points in 22 games played this season. This is impressive for a newcomer, and it will be interesting to see him grow with the team as he aims for a spot in the National Hockey League.
After proving to be a large addition to the team late last season, Eagles goalie Lukas Hafner has not been the number one for this Eagles team. However, the Eagles are getting plenty of help from Joe Cannata and Sam Brittain, as the two goalies have backstopped the Eagles to the top of the league. Cannata’s 2.07 goals against average is tops in the league and his 15-1-1 record is also unmatched.
With the Colorado Avalanche finding their stride, it can easily overshadow the success of the Eagles. However, if one thing is for certain: The future of both of these clubs is extremely bright.