Fish school Brahmas in 7-1 victory
Could this be the Denver Cutthroats team that Head Coach Derek Armstrong has been telling us about since open tryouts in August? It certainly appeared that way as the home team hit their stride against the Fort Worth Brahmas tonight, winning 6-1 in the second of back-to-back games at the Denver Coliseum.
“Yeah, this is… it’s still a ways to go yet but this is the type of team we’re going to build our character on,” said Armstrong. “We’re going to do things right every single night and we’re going to play hard. I think we really competed tonight, which is what I’m trying to preach every night.”
The high scoring affair got rolling early in the first period when Mario Boilard scored his first of two goals just over five minutes into the contest. More of a grinder type than a pure goal scorer – Boilard only had all of three goals last season – the gritty forward set the festivities in motion.
“We’re not here to score goals,” said Boilard. “We had a good forecheck and just like, by cycling the puck and banging the goal, somehow I scored two goals…”
Boilard would score Denver’s third goal and the fourth of the game nearly eleven minutes later, building on the foundation set by Colorado Avalanche prospect Gabriel Beaupre, who scored his first of the season on the eventual game winner just twenty-one seconds earlier. The Fish have proven an ability to start the game off on the right fin, scoring a total of six goals in two first periods this weekend and nine first period on the season.
“I feel great after my first pro goal and the team played great so I’m happy,” said Beaupre, who picked up an assist later in the third. “I have one goal in my head, to play in NHL, and I will do it.”
That’s where the game ended for the Brahmas, who were carved up into a nice steak by a school of fish hungry like piranhas.
Brad Smyth would connect with line-mate A.J. Gale for his third tally of the weekend and Gale would match him on the scoreboard moments later. Capping off the second stanza was a career first goal for defenseman and Boulder-native Phil Tesoriero.
The last frame of the game was all Denver. They were hitting, they were skating, and they added one last insult to the whipping they put on the cows when Gabe Gauthier sent them home branded, bruised, and beaten.
Goaltender Kieran Millan got his third start and first win of the season, stopping 34 of 35 shots to the standing ovation of those in attendance. Despite a goal early for Millan, he built confidence quickly through the game, going as far as to knock a floating puck out of the net behind him with a well timed stick, saving a clear goal in the blink of an eye.
“It’s always nice to get the first one [win] out of the way,” said Millan. “Those early saves in the second period really kept the momentum in our favor and really helped us continue to push and press them into their own zone.”
With play like this, Millan will keep the battle close with fellow tendy Kent Patterson, who has been the clear number one goalie thus far. Both netminders have put in the time off ice to hone their game, assisted by Avalanche goaltending consultant Kirk McLean.
“Obviously having the Avalanche here is very helpful. We get a lot of face time with Kirk McLean and Craig Billington,” said Millan. “They spend a lot of time with us working in practice and making sure we’re working hard. All that accumulates and helps make me a better player and it really translates [to] playing well in games.”
The club combined for seven goals from six different skaters, two of which were defensemen. The team also has five straight games with multi-point players, a franchise high.
The Cutthroats are away this weekend, playing three games against the Arizona Sundogs before they return home for another two versus the same team, who recently picked up two NHL skaters of their own, Dave Schlemko and Kyle Chipchura from the Phoenix Coyotes.
What do you think? Is the team coming together? How will they do against Arizona?