As the Colorado Eagles head to the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history, the San Antonio Rampage’s ECHL affiliate will play a series crowded with former Rampage players. The Eagles themselves will be represented by eight who have suited up for the Silver and Black, and two former San Antonio products will be on the other side of the faceoff circle for the South Carolina Stingrays.
The Finals will showcase 10 former Rampage players: Alex Belzile (Colorado), Julien Nantel (Colorado), Shawn St. Amant (Colorado), Sergei Boikov (Colorado), Mason Geertsen (Colorado), Jackson Houck (Colorado), Sam Jardine (Colorado), Kent Simpson (Colorado), Joe Devin (South Carolina) and Cody Corbett (South Carolina). The Eagles hold home-ice advantage during the 2-3-2 format of the Finals, hosting Games 1, 2, 6*, and 7*. * If necessary
The Stingrays landed the game-winning goal midway through the third period in Game 7 to win the Gingher Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions, and will face the Colorado Eagles in the Kelly Cup Finals tonight at 6:05 p.m. CT at the Budweiser Events Center.
The road to the Finals wasn’t easy for Colorado, despite consistent postseason success from the team. Once a member of the Central Hockey League, the Eagles were a consistently dominant team, winning five conference titles (2005, 07, 08, 09, 11) and two Ray Miron President’s Cups (2005, 07) in a seven-year span.
Eagles fans grew accustomed to a powerhouse roster year after year, and after a five-year drought, the team looks like it’s back. This will be the first Kelly Cup Finals in franchise history since the Eagles joined the ECHL for the 2011-12 season.
Colorado knocked off a tough Idaho Steelhead (4-1) squad that finished in a tie for the sixth-best record in the regular season, the two-time defending champion Allen Americans (4-2), who finished the regular season on a 15-0-1-0 streak, and the Toledo Walleye (4-1) who claimed the regular-season title with a 51-17-2-2 record.
Accomplishing such a feat can only be achieved with a team effort, but it does helps to have the playoffs’ best forward and defenseman on the same roster. Former Rampage and current Eagles forward Alex Belzile, and Eagles defenseman Matt Register have been on an absolute tear this postseason, combining for 20 goals and 24 assists in 16 playoff contests.
“I think we are playing with a fast pace and our defensive unit moves the puck really well, so it’s easier for our forwards to create offensive zone time and scoring chances,” said Belzile on his team’s success in the ECHL playoffs. “I also just want to be intense on every shift and confident about my game.”
Outside of the Eagles’ high-powered offense – averaging 3.69 goals per game – the team has also been quick to adjust in each of the three series, winning the first and third rounds after dropping Game 1.
“We believe in our system and our style,” said Belzile. “We are a really tough team to play against when we play our style and not the opponent’s style. We are confident about what we are doing and we never stop believing in our game. We saw it during Game 4 in Idaho, when we were trailing 5-2 with three minutes remaining and we came back to win the game in overtime. That’s just an example of our confidence and what can happen when we play our game.”
Former Rampage Skaters with the Eagles
No. Name POS GP G A PTS PIM
55 Alex Belzile RW 14 14 10 24 32
20 *Julien Nantel F 16 7 4 11 4
28 *Shawn St. Amant F 14 4 5 9 8
26 *Sergei Boikov D 14 2 5 7 8
2 Mason Geertsen D 15 1 3 4 34
14 *Jackson Houck F 3 0 0 0 0
44 Sam Jardine D 3 0 0 0 0
No. Name POS GP MINS W L OTL/SOL GAA SV%
35 Kent Simpson G 4 239 2 2 0 3.02 .879