In nail-biting fashion, Eagles advance to second round of Kelly Cup Playoffs

Eagles Michael Joly, Jake Marto, Jake Marchment and Drayson Bowman celebrate a goal. Credit: TerrySanford@prohockeynews.com

Only 24 hours after their NHL club, the Colorado Avalanche, was eliminated from the NHL playoffs at the hands of the President’s Trophy winners, Nashville, the defending ECHL champion Colorado Eagles traveled to Wichita and took down the Wichita Thunder, 5-3, to advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.

The Eagles now await the winner of the series between the Allen Americans and the Idaho Steelheads. The Americans can eliminate the Steelheads on Tuesday. The second round will begin this weekend, the Eagles hosting the first two games on Saturday and Sunday.

The Eagles were led by the line of Joey Ratalle (1 goal, 1 assist), Michael Joly (1 goal, 2 assists) and J.C. Beaudin (1 goal) to push the pace in this tightly-contested game against the Thunder on Monday.

A large part of the Eagles’ success advancing to the second round is due to big series from Beaudin (7 points), Joly (7 points), and two-time ECHL defenseman of the year Matt Register (7 points). These three Eagles find themselves in the top 10 of all ECHL skaters in playoff points.

The Thunder struck first with their home-ice advantage. Forward Mark MacMillan scored the first goal of the game at 6:50 mark of the first period.

A minute later, the Eagles netted an equalizing goal at the 7:52 mark; Beaudin notched his fourth goal of the postseason.

The Eagles found the first goal of the second period thanks to defeseman Jake Marto notching his first goal of the playoffs, and snapping an Eagles cold streak on the power play.

Wichita tied things up, but the Eagles re-took the lead in the final two minutes of the second period — Joly would utilize his speed for a highlight-reel wraparound goal.

The Thunder would answer though. Evan Polei came up with the equalizing goal at the 12:24 mark. However, four minutes later the Eagles stormed back down the ice where forward Joey Ratelle crashed the net, reclaiming the Eagles’ one-goal lead.

Captain Matt Garbowsky scored on the empty Thunder net to close out the game and secure the series for the Eagles.

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