DENVER, Colo. – Mike Forney and Paul McIlveen each bagged two assists, while Alex Velischek netted the game winner as the Arizona Sundogs battled back to even their conference final series against the Denver Cutthroats with a 4-3 win Saturday night in front of 2,074 fans at the Denver Coliseum.
The Cutthroats got on the board first, cashing in on a breakaway goal by A.J. Gale from Troy Schwab 2:38 into the game to make it 1-0. The Sundogs evened things up mid-way through the period when Shawn Limpright beat Denver’s Kent Patterson from in front of the Denver net with assists going to Forney and McIlveen in an extra attacker situation.
For the second game in a row, the Cutthroats scored twice on the power play. Their first man advantage goal came late in the first period when Kyle Fletcher skipped the puck over the glove of Arizona’s Andrew Engelage for the 2-1 lead. T.J. Fox and Cam Reid were credited with the helpers on Fletcher’s go-ahead goal.
Everything was going Denver’s way entering the first intermission, as they headed to the locker room with a 2-1 lead and 21-12 shot advantage.
The second period, however, would be all Sundogs. Arizona out-shot Denver 12-10 while scoring three goals to establish a two-goal lead.
With Kevin Baker in the box for a high sticking double-minor, Alex Tuckerman took a pass from Tommy Maxwell and buried it into the net shorthanded at 11:36 of the second to tie the game. While playing with just four skaters on each side, Justin Pender gave Arizona the lead at 15:24, scoring off a pass from David Rutherford and Forney. 47-seconds later, Velischek netted the eventual game-winner with assists going to McIlveen and Bryan Cameron.
Despite being out-shot 14-7 in the final period, the Denver Cutthroats were determined to even the game. Schwab scored Denver’s second power play marker of the night at 8:43 of the third, on assists from Garett Bembridge and Fox, to extend his playoff point-streak to eight games and pull the Cutthroats to within one goal. Denver, however, would not be able to get the equalizer as Engelage and the Arizona defense held tough to secure the series-tying victory.
The two squads ended the night with 38 shots on goal apiece, while Engelage saved 35 to pick up his fifth win of the playoffs. Patterson was saddled with his third loss of the post-season while making 34 saves on the night.
The series now shifts back to Prescott Valley, Arizona for the next two games, with game three scheduled for a 6:35pm MST start on Tuesday night.
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Photos courtesy of Hector Acevedo (Denver News Images)