Mission Accomplished: Colorado Eagles are back-to-back Kelly Cup Champions

ECHL.com

In their final season as a member of the ECHL, the Colorado Eagles have completed their repeat bid, defeating the Florida Everblades in a nail-biting 3-2 victory in Game 7 to claim the 2018 Kelly Cup Championship.

Just as they have done all season, the Eagles relied on another exceptional performance from Eagles goaltender Joe Cannata — who finished the game with 30 saves to shut down the Everblades.

In what was a calculated first period for both sides, the only goal to be scored was in the favor of the Everblades, as Florida forward Spencer Smallman buried a shot past Cannata at the 8:43 mark of the first period to get his team on the board.

With the Everblades scoring the lone goal of the first period, the Eagles found some help from the 2018 ECHL Most Valuable Player Michael Joly. Joly came up with the tying goal late in the second period by striping a Florida defenseman of the puck, and storming down the ice on a breakaway to sneak the puck past Everblades goaltender Martin Oulette.

With Joly scoring the lone goal of the second period, the Colorado Eagles aimed to continue the momentum from Joly’s goal into the final frame.

However, things did not go as planned as Everblades forward John McCarron converted on a 2-on-1 by receiving a pass in front of the net to bury the puck past Cannata to give the Everblades the 2-1 lead.

Sometimes, to be able to score, a team just has to throw the puck on net. This continued to remain true as Eagles forward and Colorado Avalanche prospect Travis Barron received the puck below the faceoff circle, firing it on the net to put it past the Everblades goaltender at the 10:45 mark of the third period to tie the game.

With the game tied in the final minutes of the third period of the championship-deciding Game 7, the Florida Everblades found themselves on a powerplay to possibly score another go-ahead goal and secure the title.

However, rewards go to those who are willing to take risks, and the Eagles are pure opportunists.

Shorthanded with three minutes remaining in the game, Colorado stormed down the ice after an Everblades turnover, with forward Gabriel Verpaelst receiving a pass in the slot to bury a wrist shot at the 17:31 mark of the third period to give the Eagles the lead.

Despite the Everblades pulling their goalie in favor for the extra man, the Eagles held onto the one-goal lead to reclaim the Kelly Cup title for the second consecutive season in their final season in the ECHL.

Next season, the Colorado Eagles will be taking their leave from the ECHL to become the top-affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche in the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Eagles are now back-to-back ECHL Champions, right when they’re graduating to the top league in the United States outside of the NHL. Colorado won the fifth-ever Game 7 in ECHL Kelly Cup Finals history.

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