Two more Golden Eagle franchise records fell, the Indianapolis Ice was eliminated from playoff consideration, and Eagle Paul Ranheim took three more steps toward the IHL record for goals by a rookie Tuesday night.
But the Eagles, who set a club record by winning their 13th straight game, one short of tying the IHL record, played their poorest defensive game since March 9, finally allowing an opponent more than two goals for the first time in nine games.Still, they came away from Indianapolis with a 6-4 victory and a hat trick by Ranheim, whose father Ted was in the audience at Fairgrounds Coliseum.
That gave Ranheim 63 goals, three short of the IHL mark for first-year men.
The Eagles headed home today for their final two Salt Palace games of the regular season Friday and Saturday with a three-point lead in the West Division standings but still four points out of the overall league lead as Muskegon also won on Tuesday.
Muskegon has 111 points, the Eagles 107 and Milwaukee 104. The two points the Birds picked up for the win Tuesday established a club record, breaking the old mark of 105 set in 1979-80.
With seven games left in the regular season, the Eagles have a shot at the club record for fewest losses. They have 20, and the '78-79 team had 22 in a 76-game schedule.
Tuesday's was the Eagles' eighth straight win against Indianapolis, the ninth straight victory by goalie Steve Guenette and the Eagles' sixth straight road win.
Ranheim, who broke the club record owned by Joe Mullen for goals in a season when he got his 60th a week ago today, gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead with a short-handed goal at 9:29 of the first period Tuesday. He made it 5-3, taking a 2-on-1 assist from Rich Chernomaz to the bank at 18:21 of the second, and he put home an empty-net goal at 19:37 of the third for only his second hat trick of the season. He's had 12 two-goal games and one five-goal game. The short-handed goal was his sixth, and the empty-net goal was his second - he's the only Eagle with two of those.
The Eagles had trouble keeping the Ice down, though they never trailed. The Ice, playing without leading goalscorer Brent Sapergia, benched by coach's decision, matched Dave Reierson's game-opneing goal at 1:41 with one by Ron Handy at 3:21. They matched Ranheim's first with one less than three minutes later by Alain Lemieux. Eagle Marc Bureau scored the only unanswered goal of the game until Ranheim's empty-netter at 19:17 of the first.
Rick Lessard gave the Eagles their first two-goal lead 1:27 into the third period to chase former Eagle goalie Doug Dadswell and bring on Alan Perry. Iceman Mike Murray goaled at 9:58 for a 4-3 tally that was made 5-3 by Ranheim and upped to 5-4 by Dwaine Hutton at 19:16 of the second. The Eagles, who've lost in regulation only once all season when starting the third period with a lead, protected that one-goal margin for more than 20 minutes until Ranheim finally put the game away.