The ECHL All-Stars showed off their talent Wednesday night, tying an ECHL All-Star Game record by scoring five unanswered second period goals to defeat the 2013 ECHL All-Star Game host Colorado Eagles 7-3 at the Budweiser Events Center In Loveland, CO.
It was the sixth time a team in an ECHL All-Star Game scored five goals in a period.
“Well we didn’t score six so not good enough,” Wheeling’s Andrew Hotham joked following the game.
Hotham led the way with two goals for the All-Stars and opened the game’s scoring 6:33 into the game by putting home a rebound to give the All-Stars a 1-0 lead. He then used a blistering shot from dead center of Eagle’s goalie Kyle Jones to give the All-Stars a 5-2 lead with 1:25 remaining in the second period.
“The first period they worked a little harder than we did and we knew we had to come back and do a little bit better and the guys started moving their feet well,” Hotham said.
Orlando’s C.J. Severyn helped the All-Stars tie the ECHL record when he batted home a rebound past Jones with 8.5 seconds remaining in the second period. Jones finished with 12 saves and four goals allowed while Colorado starter Adam Brown stopped 8-of-11 shots in the game’s first half of action.
Along with the second period offensive outburst came an impressive shutout by South Carolina Stingrays' goaltender Ryan Zapolski, who made 17 saves to earn the ECHL All-Star Game MVP honors.
“It’s special. Another honor,” Zapolski said. “Being here is enough for me, but being able to get the MVP was definitely a nice bonus.”
“Coming in cold is tough but I got a couple of warm up shots before the period started so that helps a little bit,” Zapolski said. “I just wanted to keep us in the game. Colorado was coming hard.”
The Eagle’s entered the second period leading 2-1 following first period goals from A.J. Hau and Joey Sides. Hau beat Grubauer short-side for an unassisted goal to tie the game at 1-1 with 8:20 remaining in the first. Then the GoPro camera-wearing Sides gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead with 3:16 left in the period by capping off a 3-on-1 rush with a power-play goal when he lifted a rebound over Grubauer's shoulders.
“It was kind of a last minute thing. I was going to do it for the skills (competition) for a little bit but the battery was dead,” Sides said about wearing his GoPro camera. “I thought I was going to do it just for warm ups but I figured ‘Why not? This doesn’t happen too often, an event like this.’”
Las Vegas’s Chris Francis (one goal, one assist) and Toledo’s Willie Coetzee (one goal, one assist) opened up the second period offensive onslaught with two goals in 1:17 to give the All-Stars a 3-2 lead in the opening five minutes. Utah’s Mitch Wahl then picked up his second assist of the night when Cincinnati’s Taylor Ellington put home Wahl's rebound to extend the All-Stars lead to 4-2 with 4:16 remaining in the second.
In possibly his last action in the ECHL, Grubauer surrendered two goals on 16 shots in the first period but also made two tremendous saves, the first coming on an awkward bounce off the backboards that Trent Daavettila could not slip past the Washington Capitals prospect. Grubauer’s best of the night came when he made an old-school diving, sideways stop on a short breakaway by Sides.
“(I was) coming in hot and just tried to make a stop back to the forehand and he surprised me with the stacked pads, that’s a pretty rare move now a days,” Sides said. “(I)just couldn’t get past him and I went diving into the crossbar.”
Daavettila finished the game with a team-high two assists when Michael Forney snuck one past Lee 44 seconds into the third period to cut the Eagle’s deficit to 6-3.
Elmira’s Dustin Gazley capped the night off with one final goal with 19 seconds remaining in the game for the ECHL All-Stars, which provided the 7-3 outcome.
Follow Justin Felisko at Twitter via @jfelisko