Finals Preview – Eagles and Brahmas Battle in Game One Tonight
The fight for the Ray Miron President’s Cup begins tonight in Loveland, Colorado at the Budweiser Events Center when the Bud Poile Governors’ Cup Champion (regular season) Colorado Eagles face-off versus the Texas Brahmas. Both teams had outstanding regular seasons winning their respective divisions and conferences and now look to cap off those resumes by winning the CHL Championship.
Colorado vs. Texas (best of seven, all times local)
Game 1 – Wednesday, April 29 – Texas @ Colorado, 7:05 PM
Game 2 – Friday, May 1 – Texas @ Colorado, 7:05 PM
Game 3 – Sunday, May 3 – Colorado @ Texas, 3:05 PM
Game 4 – Tuesday, May 5 – Colorado @ Texas, 7:05 PM
*Game 5 – Wednesday, May 6 – Colorado @ Texas, 7:05 PM
*Game 6 – Friday, May 8 – Texas @ Colorado, 7:05 PM
*Game 7 – Sunday, May 10 – Texas @ Colorado, 7:05 PM
* - if necessary
This marks the fourth time in the six year history of the Colorado Eagles that they have competed for the CHL Championship. Twice the Eagles have taken home the Cup with wins in 2005 and 2007 versus the Laredo Bucks. Last season was the only time the Eagles made it to the championship that they did not win as they were swept by the Arizona Sundogs. The Brahmas organization has only once made it to a finals series for a league championship and that was in 1998 when a member of the Western Professional Hockey League. Then the Fort Worth Brahmas, they were swept by the El Paso Buzzards in four games.
The Eagles cruised to the Northwest Division championship winning by a remarkable 24 points over the second place Rocky Mountain Rage. Colorado finished the regular season with a 45-15-4 record (23-7-2 at home; 22-8-2 on the road). They won the Northern Conference and the CHL’s regular season championship by three points over the Mississippi RiverKings. Texas, playing in their first year in the Southern Conference, won the Southeast Division and Southern Conference with 90 points and a 42-16-6 record (26-5-1 at home; 16-11-5 on the road).
The Brahmas are 82-38-8 in their last two seasons under head coach Dan Wildfong (his first two seasons coaching at any level) including an amazing 49-13-2 at home. Wildfong previously played six seasons for the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs becoming their franchise leader in most statistical categories. The two-time league Most Valuable Player finalist was a part of two championship teams with the Mudbugs. Kevin McClelland is in his first season behind the bench for the Colorado Eagles after coaching the previous three seasons with the Mississippi RiverKings (posted a 100-77-15 record with the ‘Kings). The former four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers was named the 2006-07 CHL Coach of the Year.
The Eagles are the top post-season team on the power play connecting 12 0f 52 times for 23%. They are however just 3 for their last 25 dating back to games 4-6 in the conference semifinals versus Mississippi. Texas is third in the CHL during the playoffs with an 18% success rate (13 for 71). They went 6 for their last 18 in the Southern Conference Finals versus Odessa. Texas is third on the penalty kill (88%) and Colorado is fifth (85%) in the post-season.
For the Brahmas, Jason Deitsch leads all skater in the playoffs with five goals and 11 assists for 16 points (has two goals and three assists in his last three games). Texas’ Tyler Skworchinski is tops in the CHL with nine post-season goals. He has ridden quite the rollercoaster in the playoffs scoring six goals with an assist in the four games versus Rio Grande Valley in the semifinals but until a six point (3-3=6) game seven in the conference finals he did not record a point versus Odessa. For the Eagles, Ed McGrane has points in nine of 10 playoff games (7-5=12) and dating back to the regular season has recorded at least a point in 29 of his last 30 games, good for 41 total points. Colorado’s Riley Nelson has a seven-game playoff point streak scoring three goals with four assists.
Head to Head:
The Brahmas won the only regular season meeting, 4-1, in Texas on February 6th, 2009. Colorado was all over the Brahmas through the first two periods outshooting them 26-17 but Brett Jaeger was perfect stopping everything he faced. Nathan Saunders scored a first period goal giving Texas a 1-0 lead that held up until the third period when four combined goals were scored between the two teams. Greg McConnell, Jason Deitsch and Matt Burto scored goals for Texas and Jay Birnie recorded the only goal of the night for the Eagles. Andrew Penner made 21 saves taking the loss and Jaeger stopped 41 of 42 shots. In the all-time history between the two teams, Colorado is 10-3-0 in the regular season and they won the only playoff match-up last season in the Northern Conference Finals in seven games.
Keep up with all the post-season news, notes and stats with the Playoff H Q located online at www.centralhockeyleague.com and follow all the CHL’s happenings on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CHLprohockey.