Sunday, April 27, 2008
PRESCOTT VALLEY, ARIZONA – The Phoenix Coyotes’ Central Hockey League (CHL) affiliate, the Arizona Sundogs, advanced to their first-ever Ray Miron President’s Cup Finals after defeating the Laredo Bucks 6-1 in Game 7 of the Southern Conference Finals on Saturday night at the Laredo Entertainment Center in Laredo, Texas.
Arizona came out a different team following Friday night’s Game 6 loss and scored the first goal of Game 7 to take a 1-0 lead in the opening period. Regular season scoring champion Alex Leavitt collected a cross-ice pass from Cory Urquhart before firing a shot past Bucks netminder John Ceci for his fifth goal of the postseason at the 10:25 mark. Urquhart registered his eighth assist of the playoffs on the Leavitt tally to help his club to the early lead. Laredo would answer 1:43 later as Alex Goupil had a shot trickle off the glove of Sundogs goaltender Rob McVicar and across the goal line to pull even at one goal apiece. Igor Agarunov and Chris Korchinski were credited with assists to tie the game before the end of the first period. Shots were nearly identical with Arizona holding a 15-14 advantage in the opening 20 minutes Saturday night.
In the second period, the two teams displayed play common in a season-deciding game, trading scoring chances throughout the frame. The Sundogs would tally the period’s lone goal to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission as veteran defenseman Chris Bartolone found the back of the net on a pass from defensive partner Jon Landry for his fifth goal of the playoffs. Arizona outshot the Bucks for the second-straight period by a 16-12 mark.
The Sundogs came out in the third period and registered two goals separated by just 26 seconds to open a 4-1 lead less than two minutes in. Jason Visser beat Ceci on a pass from linemate Urquhart for his third marker of the postseason. The assist would be Urquhart’s second of the game. Tyler Liebel gave his club a three-goal cushion seconds later as he netted his second tally of the playoffs from Karl Sellan. At 5:46 of the period, Urquhart grabbed the game’s lone power play goal on passes from Leavitt and David Schlemko
for a 5-1 lead. With 7:48 to play in regulation, Steve Rymsha found the back of the net with help from Kyle Hood to all but secure their team’s berth in the finals and close out scoring.
Rob McVicar improved to 7-1 in the postseason, stopping 44 of 45 shots while Jon Ceci blocked 40 of 46 shots in the loss. The Sundogs tallied the game’s lone power play goal to finish 1-for-6 on the man advantage. Laredo was held scoreless on two power play chances.
The Sundogs (39-19-6) finished the regular season with a better overall record than the defending champion Colorado Eagles (37-20-7) and will have home ice advantage in the finals. Game 1 of the best-of-7 series is set for Thursday, May 1 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Tickets for all home games go on sale on Monday, April 28 beginning at 9:00am and are available by phone at 1-866-4-GET-TIX (1-866-443-8849), online at www.gettix.net and in person at the Tim’s Toyota Center Box Office.