Its been 170 days since the Colorado Eagles hoisted the Ray Miron Presidents Cup with a dramatic 1-0 win in Game 5 at Laredo, and the two clubs faced off again Friday night in one of seven games to kick-start the Central Hockey League season. Again, Colorado was victorious, using a pair of goals by 04-05 CHL Most valuable Player Greg Pankewicz to post a 4-2 win. Elsewhere around the CHL on Opening Night, Youngstown edged Tulsa 3-2, Fort Worth nipped Oklahoma City 4-3, Bossier-Shreveport slipped by Memphis 4-3, Wichita handled Odessa 6-2, Corpus Christi skated past Austin 5-2 and Rio Grande Valley topped Lubbock 5-3.
Laredo 2 @ Colorado 4
The Eagles picked up right where they ended last season, as defending CHL Most Valuable Player Greg Pankewicz scored twice as Colorado doubled up Laredo 4-2. Pankewicz opened the scoring with a power play marker, and scored the eventual game winner short-handed in the third period after Laredo tied the score 2-2 on goals by Adam Stefishen and Nick Warriner. Chris Hartsburg wrapped up the scoring with a power play goal of his own, capping off a night that saw the Eagles raise division, regular season and playoff banners to celebrate their 04-05 accomplishments.
Youngstown 3 @ Tulsa 2
The SteelHounds, playing their first ever contest, rallied around a three-point night by former CHL All-Star Chris Richards to earn their first ever victory. Richards redirected home the game winning goal and set up both other Youngstown goals, while David St. Germain was also exceptional, making 47 saves in the SteelHound net. Klage Kaebel and Henry Kuster provided the scoring for Tulsa.
Fort Worth 4 @ Oklahoma City 3
The refurbished Brahmas got 05-06 off to a good start with a 4-3 comeback win in Oklahoma City. Trailing 2-0, Fort Worth rattled off consecutive goals by Wes Mason, Bret Dececco, Ty Hennes and Ben Gustavson then held off a Blazers comeback attempt of their own. Mike Lukajic, Garrett Prosofsky and Jared Dumba scored for Oklahoma City, while Sean Connors made 38 saves on 42 shots.
Memphis 3 @ Bossier-Shreveport 4
Brett Smiths lucky bounce proved to be the difference as rivals Bossier-Shreveport and Memphis got reacquainted in a wild affair at the CenturyTel Center. All three Memphis goals (Derek Landmesser, Ryan Watson, and Jeremy Wray) came in succession to erase a 2-0 Mudbugs lead established by Scott Sheppard and Blair Manning. The RiverKings couldnt hold the lead either, allowing Jason Campbell to tie the contest 3-3 with a power play marker. Smith proved to be the hero late in the second period, chipping home a shorthanded goal that eluded RiverKing goaltender Miguel Beaudry, who was otherwise exceptional with 41 saves.
Odessa 2 @ Wichita 6
The Thunder tied a CHL record with three shorthanded goals, and never looked back after an early 3-0 advantage. Darren McMillian, Tyler Leibel and Kris Wiebe accounted for the shorthanded goals, with Ryan Coghlan (two goals) and Joe Blaznek also scoring, and daniel Tetrault adding three assists. Odessa managed to hold Wichita superstars Jason Duda and Travis Clayton pointless, but could only muster goals by Mike Rutter and Scott Hillman, despite outshooting the Thunder 38-29.
Corpus Christi 5 @ Austin 2
The new infusion of talent brought in to Corpus Christi paid early dividends as the Rayz pulled out a 5-2 win in Austin. Newcomers Randy Murphy (goal, three assists), Shaun Legault (goal, two assists) and Scott Reid (29 saves) all made immediate impacts for Corpus Christi, who broke open a 2-2 tie by scoring the last three markers in the contest. Aaron Schneekloth and Jeff Neufeld provided the Ice Bats two goals.
Lubbock 3 @ Rio Grande Valley 5
Three Killer Bees enjoyed two-point outings to give Rio Grande Valley a 5-3 home win to start the season. Daymen Bencharski potted the game winning goal and added an assist, Trevor Weisgerber also scored and assisted, and Clay Plume set up two markers in the win. New goaltender Evan Lindsey made 37 saves for the Killer Bees, allowing goals by Emery Olauson (2) and Kyle Nosan.