Colorado Eagles playoff race comes down to ‘win and you’re in’ weekend

Ryan Loberger

The inaugural season in American Hockey League has been a roller coaster for the Colorado Eagles. After winning back-to-back Kelly Cup Championships in the ECHL in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles are now in a fight to extend their season and their quest for a third consecutive championship.

They find themselves in the thick of a playoff race that could go any which way by the end of the week, with three teams battling it out for the final two spots.

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Eagles fans have gotten used to the Tucson Roadrunners breathing down their necks for the better part of the past two months and that will be no different this weekend.

Colorado picked up a huge two points with a 3-2 shootout win on the road over Chicago. With the win, the Eagles currently sit a point ahead of the Tucson Roadrunners for the fourth and final playoff spot with 75 points.

The third and final team in the race for the last two playoff spots, the San Diego Gulls, sit two points ahead of Colorado and need just two points over their next two games to clinch the third spot in the Pacific division.

Wednesday night was a wild one in the playoff race, and thanks to key wins by divisional rivals the Eagles still sit inside the playoff picture and hold a one-point lead over Tucson heading into the weekend.

San Jose defeated San Diego in regulation by a score of 4-3, preventing the Gulls from clinching, and another big break for the Eagles, the Tucson Roadrunners also suffered a 4-3 regulation loss at the hands’ of the Bakersfield Condors.

All three teams are knotted; with 66 games played and only two remaining it’s going to be a sprint to the finish this weekend as Colorado will host the San Jose Barracuda.

For Colorado the path into the postseason is clear, with Tucson and San Diego playing head-to-head this weekend, for the Eagles it’s win and you’re in.
The Eagles can control their own fate by sweeping this weekend, finishing with 79 points on the season and eliminating Tucson from playoff contention. Colorado can likely ensure a playoff spot as long as they win one or both games in the series. Realistically, Colorado can still make it even if San Jose takes both games, so long as Tucson doesn’t get more than two points in any form.

Both Tucson and San Diego losing in regulation was the best possible outcome for the Eagles heading into the weekend. While Eagles fans were cheering for San Jose last night, that won’t be the case this weekend.

The season series is tied 3-3, with the last matchups going back to March 16 and 17. The Eagles took the first game in San Jose by a score of 3-2 behind a solid performance from Pavel Francouz who stopped 23 of 25 shots en route to Colorado’s ninth straight win. San Jose bounced back and took the following game with a commanding 9-0 win.

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The Eagles will be hosting fan appreciation night to celebrate their fans, recognizing their passion and support for the club. The promotion will be held Saturday in the team’s final home game against San Jose.

The final series of the Eagles’ regular season kicks off Friday night at the Budweiser Events Center, puck drops at 7:05 p.m.

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan.