DENVER — Colorado’s hockey team is playing for the championship.
No, not those guys, the Denver Cutthroats, who are right in the middle of the President’s Cup Finals against the reigning champion Allen Americans.
After the Cutthroats and the Americans split the first two games of the Central Hockey League series at the Denver Coliseum, the action was bound for Texas where the teams will play games 3, 4 and 5. (Results of games in Texas were not available before press time.)
If necessary, game 6 and game 7 will be played back in Denver, and considering how the series opened with had two dramatic games — one with a spectacular individual effort and the next with a double overtime finish — it could go the distance.
Game 1 of the series featured an outstanding performance from A.J. Gale, who scored a Finals’ record four goals, helping the Avalanche minor league affiliates hold off the Americans (Dallas Stars organization) for a 5-4 victory May 2 at the Denver Coliseum.
Denver took a 3-0 lead early in the second period before Allen managed to tie the game up 3-3. Gale then scored two third-period goals, and the Cutthroats were able to hold off the Americans.
Game 2 was a different story, as Allen beat Denver 5-4 in overtime at the Coliseum.
The Americans were the ones in front early in Game 2, up 2 goals to none.
But the Cutthroats, without Gale, came charging back to take a 3-2 lead. Gale, who not only had four goals in Game 1, but seven in his previous two games, was injured early in the action and never returned.
Gale was checked into the boards in the first period and needed to be helped off the ice. Head coach Derek Armstrong said Gale sustained a lower body injury and was hospitalized.
No penalty was called on the hit, but give credit to the Cutthroats for finding a way to force overtime at 4-4.
The Americans cashed in just two minutes into the second overtime when Allen forward Jamie Schaafsma beat Denver goalie Kent Patterson with a beautiful shot up top.
With the series tied 1-1, Allen will host the next three games under the league’s 2-3-2 playoff system with Game 3 scheduled for May 7.