Eagles unable to handle the Heat, fall to 0-2 on the season

Ryan Loberger

Some opponents just have your number. For the Colorado Eagles, that team seems to be the Stockton Heat. After only collecting two wins in eight matchups last season, the Eagles dropped both games of their weekend series to open the season 0-2.

Eagles forward Shane Bowers (14) battles with Stockton Heat defenseman Alexander Yelesin (45) for a loose puck during a game on Oct. 5 (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Eagles)

Some of it can be chalked up to nerves and getting back into the swing of things as the new season gets underway.

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“We’ve got to play with more structure,” Head Coach Greg Cronin said. “We’ve got better players than we did last year, and our group has to learn how to play a more disciplined game. There’s a fine line between using your talent and creativity and then jeopardizing the structure on the ice.”

After goaltender Antoine Bibeau allowed five goals to the Heat on Friday night, the Eagles turned to Adam Werner on Saturday, but the Swedish netminder was unable to lead the team to their first win. 

Despite outshooting the Heat in both games, the Eagles didn’t have an answer for Heat goalie Artyom Zagidulin. Zagidulin only allowed four goals on 64 shots and recorded a .937 save percentage through the two contests. 

Last year, the Eagles struggled on the power play, finishing with a lowly 13.8% conversion rate, which was the worst of any American Hockey League team. Through two games, the team is 1/12 with the man advantage, and while it is still early in the season, this stat needs to improve for the team to be successful.

Forwards Michael Joly (left) and T.J. Tynan (right) celebrate with defenseman Calle Rosen (middle) after scoring a goal against the Stockton Heat. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Eagles).

Part of the issue seems to be the lack of chemistry among new teammates. Looking at the roster, it’s hard to think that a team with this much skill is 0-2.

“I think we have good speed,” defenseman Calle Rosen said. “It’s something we need to use even more and play a bit smarter with the puck every shift, and we should be fine. There’s a lot of things to build on despite two losses.”

The signings of T.J. Tynan and Jayson Megna this offseason, coupled with the young core, proved that the expectation is to win a Calder Cup. When the Eagles do get the kinks worked out, they’ll be an exciting team. It might just take a while to get everyone on the same page.

The Eagles will now head to Ontario, California, to battle the Ontario Reign this Friday.

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