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Eagles claw their way back in 2nd period but fall 5-4 to Stars

Momentum and energy swing for many reasons — a great play, a big hit, a fight — and sometimes they tilt for no apparent reason. The Colorado Eagles hosted the Texas Stars in the opening matchup of a two-game weekday series, and the momentum swung between both benches the entire game.

Colorado, currently sitting at second place in their division, was eyeing down the Tucson Roadrunners for first place as they trail Tucson by three wins with two games in hand, and the only team in their way was Texas.

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Julien Nantel celebrates one of his two goals scored in the second period of the Eagles game on March 10 against the Texas Stars. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Eagles)

The first swing in momentum came courtesy of a goal from Eagles’ right wing Colin Campbell halfway through the first period, giving Colorado a 1-0 lead. The Eagles dominated puck possession on the shift and were rewarded with the game’s first score. But from there, the energy shifted immediately. Texas responded just 17 seconds later and rattled off two quick goals just a minute apart to take a 2-1 lead.

Colorado saw the deficit continue to pile up in the second period as Texas jumped out to a 4-1 lead. 

“Earlier in the year we might have gotten down on ourselves,” Campbell said. “This (group has) been together long enough now that we have that confidence that we’re never out of a hockey game.”

Sticking to their game plan, Colorado climbed back. Forward Julien Nantel cut the lead to 4-2. Colorado seized momentum, and the third line struck again with Nantel and Campbell each scoring their second goals of the game.

“The boys were talking about it in between the first and second period; we’re a good team,” Nantel said. “We were talking about the game in Bakersfield. It’s a little bit of the same thing (tonight). We knew we’d be able to get back in the game, and that’s what we did.”

The Colorado Eagles head to the locker room during an intermission during a game against the Texas Stars on March 10. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Eagles)

The three unanswered goals by Colorado set up a winner-take-all third period with the game tied 4-4, but the Eagles ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard as Texas added a goal in the third to seal the game with a 5-4 win.

Even with the Eagles riding a win streak coming into the game, the absence of two of their top five scorers hurt Colorado in the third period when they needed a goal. Jayson Megna has been out of the lineup since blocking a shot against the Milwaukee Admirals back on Feb. 29.

Tonight, the Eagles lost Sheldon Dries, the team’s leading goal scorer, after the forward was cross-checked from behind by Reece Scarlett in the second period. Dries went awkwardly into the boards and did not return to the game. Dries had just arrived to Loveland after being reassigned to the Eagles courtesy of the Avalanche.

“(Megna and Dries) are our first and second line centers; that’s a big loss,” Campbell said. “It gives other guys a chance to step up. Guys from (the Utah Grizzlies) have done a great job up here and shown they can play at this level.”

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Stars’ netminder Jake Oettinger was exceptional in the game. The pro turned aside 43 of 47 shots en route to securing the 5-4 victory. For Colorado, Hunter Miska allowed 5 goals on 23 shots on goal.

The teams will go for game two March 11 at 7:05 p.m.

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

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