by Marko Ukalovic
LOVELAND, Colo- In a heated battle where both team combined for 40 penalty minutes, the Colorado Eagles proved their dominanace over the San Jose Barracuda in a 5-1 victory on Friday evening at Budwiser Events Center.
San Jose has lost a season-high six games in a row while Colorado have won three games in a row and sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 54 points.
Colorado (25-14-3-1) drew first blood in the first period. Kevin Connauton fed a home run pass from his own zone all the way into the ‘Cuda zone where AJ Greer pounced on the puck and chipped it over ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko into the upper right corner for the first of his two goals on the night at the 12:09 mark.
San Jose (14-25-1-2) evened the score over four minutes later. Manny Weiderer fed a pass from center ice that sprung Noah Gregor on a breakaway. Gregor skated in and beat Eagles goalie Hunter Miska with a shot top-shelf for his seventh goal of the season at the 16:20 mark.
Things got chippy in the second half of the opening 20 minutes between the two Pacific Division rivals when two separate fights broke out. Lean Bergmann and Logan O’Connor tangoed with each other at the 12:19 mark. Then Jeffery Viel and Dan Renouf exchanged fisticuffs with 56 seconds left.
Colorado took control of the game in the second period en route to four unanswered goals. Shane Bowers fed a pass up the ice to Greer, who had just came out of the penalty box after his penalty had expired, that led to a breakaway. Greer skated in before depositing a backhander past Sawchenko for his second goal of the night and his 11th of the season at the 6:36 mark.
The ‘Cuda had a chance on the power play on to try to score the equalizer late in the middle frame. Instead Jayson Megna blocked a shot attempt by Nick DeSimone at the point and he in turn created his own breakaway opportunity. Megna buried a backhander past Sawchenko for a short-handed goal, his 16th goal of the season and co-team leader, at the 16:21 mark.
Colorado put the game away with two goals in the third. Eric Condra intercepted a cross ice pass inside the ‘Cuda zone. He skated in on net before he finding a wide open Bowers who tapped in the puck into an empty net for his ninth goal of the season at the 1:12 mark.
The Eagles completed the scoring when Greer sent a shot in from the left point that Condra redirected the puck past Sawchenko for his 12th goal of the season at the 12:46 mark.
Miska finished the night with 31 saves on 32 shots to earn his 10th win of the season. Sawchenko made 29 shots on 34 saves in suffering the loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose went 0-for-4 on the power play. Colorado was 0-for-2.
Gregor snapped a six-game goalless drought.
The three stars of the night were 1) Greer 2) Miska 3) Bowers.
The announced attendance was 5,289.
UP NEXT: The same two teams battle it again on Saturday 2/8 at 6:00pm at the Budwiser Events Center.