*Game 7 - Wednesday: Quad City at Allen, 5:05 p.m.
SUNDOGS PLAYOFF SPOTS
The Sundogs out-shot the Cutthroats 46-30 in Game 5, but they went a dismal 0-for-6 on the power play. Denver struggled on the man advantage, too, going 0-for-5.
Arizona added Nick Holmes of Bartlett, Ill., to its roster as a back-up emergency goaltender on Saturday, although he didn't receive any time between the pipes in Game 5. Holmes wore Engelage's No. 72.
Forward David Rutherford led the Sundogs in scoring during the playoffs with two goals and 11 assists (13 points). Kevin Baker (5+4=9), Mike Forney (3+6=9) and Paul McIlveen (3+5=8) followed.
Sundogs veteran forwards Shawn Limpright and Brandon Coccimiglio, who were key cogs in Arizona's offense late in the season, did not play in Game 5 due to injury. Coccimiglio missed the entire series against the Cutthroats. Limpright only sat out the last two games of the series.
Prior to Saturday, the Sundogs had not been shut out since March 8, in a 3-0 loss at Quad City.
Prescott Valley Tribune
What began as an incredibly promising postseason for the Arizona Sundogs ended with a whimper Saturday night in Colorado.
The Denver Cutthroats advanced to the Central Hockey League's Ray Miron Presidents' Cup Finals after crushing the Sundogs, 7-0, in Game 5 of the CHL semifinals at Denver Coliseum.
With the victory, the Cutthroats - a second-year franchise that will be making its first Cup Finals appearance - claimed the series, 4-1, by winning the set's last three contests, including Games 4 and 5 in convincing fashion.
For the Sundogs, Saturday's loss in front of 3,200 fans represented the only shutout for them in 11 contests this postseason.
Denver dominated Game 5, as forward A.J. Gale registered a hat trick and added two assists - his highest output in one tilt in these playoffs.
The Cutthroats have now won six out of their last seven playoff games dating back to the opening round against the Tulsa Oilers.
No. 2 seed Denver awaits the winner of the Allen Americans-Quad City Mallards' semifinal series, which the Mallards now lead 3-2 following their second straight overtime victory in Game 5 Saturday.
In Denver on Saturday, with goalie Andrew Engelage missing his second consecutive game due to injury, the Sundogs struggled.
The Cutthroats scored two goals in the first period, three in the second and two in the third to run away with the win.
League MVP Garett Bembridge staked the hosts to a 1-0 edge 10-1/2 minutes into the opening period on assists from Gale and Aaron MacKenzie. Jean-Philipp Chabot, a former Sundog, followed less than 6 minutes later on helpers from Vincent Arseneau and Lee Moffie.
But it could've been worse, believe it or not.
Earlier in the first period, at the 5:34 mark, Denver's Daniel Barczuk missed a penalty shot after Sundog Tommy Maxwell hooked Barczuk on a breakaway.
Up 2-0 in the second period, the Cutthroats lit the lamp twice within the first 5-1/2 minutes of the frame as the club started to pull away. Arseneau found the net at the 3:11 juncture on a helper from T.J. Fox, and Gale followed at the 5:40 mark on assists from Bembridge and Troy Schwab.
It was the first of three straight goals for Gale, who scored again with 7:50 left in the second via Schwab and Steve Kaunisto, and at 7:04 in the third from Bembridge.
Robin Soudek capped the scoring for the Cutthroats midway through the final period with a tally on helpers from Cam Reid and Gale.
Denver goalie Kent Patterson, who was a monster this entire series, stopped all 46 of the Sundogs' shots in 60 minutes of Game 5. Patterson improved his 2014 playoff overall record to 7-3-2 with a 2.25 goals against average and a .942 save percentage in 587 minutes-plus.
Sundogs net-minder Adam Brown, who replaced CHL Goaltender of the Year Engelage in overtime of Game 3, turned away only 23-of-30 Denver shots in 59:55.
Brown, who did not join Arizona until late in the season, struggled in Engelage's place. Despite being put in a difficult situation, he ended the playoffs with an 0-3-0 record, a 5.51 goals against average and an .813 save percentage.
The eighth-seeded Sundogs are scheduled to return to Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley at noon today after having finished the playoffs with a 5-6 record. (Fans are invited to the arena to welcome them.)
Arizona put forth a valiant effort in the postseason, however, upsetting the top-seeded Missouri Mavericks, 4-3, in the opening round to win their first playoff series since the franchise's 2008 championship year.