Colorado Eagles win Game 2 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals over the South Carolina Stingrays | MyWindsorNow.com

Colorado Eagles win Game 2 of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals over the South Carolina Stingrays

Tommy Wood
twood@greeleytribune.com

The Colorado Eagles tied the first game of the Kelly Cup finals with a miracle, last-second goal, then won in overtime. But in Game 2, they found themselves on the other end, desperately protecting a one-goal lead against the South Carolina Stingrays' onslaught.

This time, there was no miracle. The Eagles won 3-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series behind a goal from Shawn St-Amant halfway through the third period.

Sean Zimmerman and Matt Garbowsky also scored for Colorado. Garbowsky has had three goals in two games of this series.

Steven McParland and Steve Weinstein scored for South Carolina.

"Couldn't be in a better position," Eagles coach Aaron Schneekloth said. "That's a pretty special component of this team, finding ways to win the big games, and we found a way to win tonight."

Four minutes in, Colorado experienced an unwelcome instance of deja vu. Just as the Eagles killed off a power play, they lost South Carolina forward McParland, who snuck backdoor and finished off a feed from Joey Leach.

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It was nearly identical — down to the timing, right after a power play — to the goal McParland scored in Game 1.

Colorado out-shot the Stingrays in the period. Their best early look came less than two minutes in, when Julien Nantel stole the puck in the neutral zone and nearly scored on a breakaway, stymied only by the edge of Milner's right pad.

Colorado solved Milner in a blistering 1 minute, 3 seconds early in the second period. South Carolina's Derek Arnold charged Colorado goalie Lukas Hafner in net, bowling him over backwards, knocking off his helmet and earning Arnold two minutes in the box.

Garbowsky equalized the game with a goal on the ensuing power play — his third of the series — and 1:03 later Zimmerman buried a wrister from the high slot to put the Eagles ahead.

Their lead held for most of the period, until Garbowsky was penalized for cross-checking with 1:30 remaining. The Stingrays' came into the finals converting only 17.4 percent of their powerplay chances, but this time they broke through with Weinstein's tying goal with 51 seconds remaining in the second.

Halfway into the third, South Carolina's Leach was whistled for a high stick, and a powerplay came through yet again; this time, Casey Pierro-Zabotel circled behind Milner's net and found St-Amant for a one-timer that he lasered into the right side of the net.

Colorado spent the rest of the game fending off the Stingrays' frantic attempts to equalize. They pulled Milner with 1:07 left, which sent the crowd into its biggest frenzy yet.

"They do a good job of getting traffic in front," Hafner said. "One thing I really focused on was trying to get sight lines on pucks from the point, and you have to control your rebounds from there.

"I gotta give Casey (Pierro-Zabotel) a lot of credit. He won a couple face-offs down at the other end, killed off 15, 20 seconds. That was huge."

Game 3 is at 7:05 p.m. June 4 in Charleston, S.C.

SC 1 1 0 — 2

COL 0 2 1 — 3

1st period — SC, Steven McParland (Joey Leach, John Parker), 16:00

2nd period — COL, Matt Garbowsky (Sergei Boikov, Julien Nantel) (PP), 16:26; COL, Sean Zimmerman (Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Luke Salazar), 15:23; SC, Steve Weinstein (Derek Arnold, Cody Corbett) (PP), 0:51.8.

3rd period — COL, Shawn St-Amant (Pierro-Zabotel, Alex Belzile) (PP), 9:51.

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