Since the last update the Eagles roster has been picked apart and puzzled back together repeatedly. Firstly, Cliff Watson has not yet played a single game in an Eagles sweater at home. He was called on loan to the AHL immediately after the trade and hasn’t been sent back to this point. Next, Emil Romig was offered a job by the Vienna Capitals in his homeland of Austria and opted to head back to his home country. The Eagles have also seen a number of players rotate up to the AHL at different times including major pieces Michael Joly and Joe Cannata.
On the incoming side the Eagles have signed three new players to bolster their depth, Ryan Siiro and Nick Miglio at forward, as well as the most recent addition of Chase Norrish on defense. Most importantly though, is the return from injury for Captain Matt Garbowsky. With 4 points in 4 games since coming back, Garbowsky adds a consistent offensive presence that the Eagles had been sorely lacking. Alongside Garbowsky is everyday player Jesse Mychan coming back from a month long absence. As of Wednesday the Eagles also received Joly and Cannata back from San Antonio and the roster is starting to look at lot more normal again.
Given how tumultuous the Eagles roster has been over this stretch, the 5 – 4 – 1 record in their last 10 is actually fairly solid. At certain points the Eagles were so short-manned they had to play games with just 13 skaters in the lineup. Ben Storm, who has played forward since his junior year at St. Cloud State, had to be moved into a defensive role on more than one occasion. In fact last Saturday, Teigan Zahn was thrown out of the game in the first period and the Eagles had to play with just four defensemen including Storm. The good news is the Eagles still have a solid 7 point lead in the mountain division. The bad news is the losses they piled up have likely cost them home ice advantage in the conference finals and beyond if they make it that far in the playoffs.
Speaking of playoffs, the San Antonio Rampage continue to spiral in the AHL and it’s beginning to look like they are going to miss out on late April hockey. For the Eagles that likely means the return of J.C. Beaudin, Julien Nantel, Nicolas Meloche and Shawn St. Amant for the playoffs.
In getting to know some of the new faces on the Eagles, I had opportunities to talk to Ryan Olsen and Chase Norrish after games.
Ryan Olsen may have been involved in one of the longest distance trades in hockey history. Officially he was traded to the Eagles by the Utah Grizzlies but in the month leading up to the trade, Olsen had been playing in the Czech Republic with the team Orli Znojmo. As the crow flies he traveled over 5000 miles to reach Loveland.
On the experience of playing in Europe, Olsen was honest saying, “It was a long ways from home, there wasn’t too many English-speaking players, coaches and staff. It was kind of hard for me, my first time going over. I was chasing a check for sure.” On returning to North America to play with the Eagles he said, “This opportunity came upon me and I want to win and play in the playoffs. I haven’t played a playoff game yet in my pro career so that was my number one thing.” It’s nearly a guarantee that he will see playoff action with the Eagles and he has been doing his part as well posting 8 points in 10 games since joining the team. When asked what’s working for him with Colorado he answered, “There’s a lot of good players here, they make it easy for me. Coming to a new team, you want to prove yourself and earn that respect. For me just working hard […] I’m shooting the puck and feeling great.”
After four years of NCAA hockey at RIT Chase Norrish played his first ever pro hockey game Wednesday night. I asked him about the experience after the game and he said, “There’s always a little bit of emotions in your first pro game. it was nice to play with [Garbowsky, his ex-teammate at RIT] to help me out a little bit. As soon as I got those first few shifts out of the way everything kind of just went away.” As this is his first ever pro game I asked him to describe the style of play he brings and he answered, “I like to be a mobile defensemen, move pucks to the forwards and play a strong 2-way game.” With Collin Bowman still out with injury look for Norrish to be a regular in the lineup down the stretch for the Eagles.
*Picture credit to @thevoiceofvlad