The extra work veteran center Brian Swanson puts in at the end of practices paid off handsomely Friday night for the Alaska Aces.
Swanson tipped in a shot by teammate Chad Anderson with 94 seconds left in the game to lift the Aces to a 3-2 ECHL hockey victory over the Idaho Steelheads at the CenturyLink Arena in Boise.
"He has a defenseman shoot 20 or 30 pucks after every practice and he just tips them in," Aces coach Rob Murray told KFQD radio after the game.
Murray said when he saw Anderson with the puck and Swanson lurking near the net, "I just thought, 'Andy, get it there,' and he did. It was a nice deflection."
Swanson's goal delivered a desperately needed win for the Aces, who had lost three straight and gone 2-6-1 in nine straight road games before Friday's match. Their long trip wraps up tonight with another game in Idaho.
Swanson was the night's hero, robbing Idaho goaltender Jerry Kuhn of that honor. The Aces thoroughly dominated the Steelheads, outshooting them 48-18, but Kuhn kept stopped 13 shots in the first period, 17 in the second and 16 in the third period.
Despite their dominance, the Aces (33-12-6) trailed much of the game.
Idaho took a 1-0 first-period lead on a power-play goal from Stephen Schultz, who scored off a rebound at 4:44.
The Aces finally got a shot past Kuhn at 3:29 of the second period when Anderson's slap shot from the right circle tied the game 1-1.
Idaho regained the lead with a goal from the blue line by Cody Purves at 4:42. The Aces answered 70 seconds, and again it was Swanson who made things happen by finding Dan Kissel, who scored on a one-timer to tie the game again.
"Kissel's goal was all Brian Swanson. He out-muscled about four guys," Murray told KFQD. "He had a whale of a game."
For the game-winner, Swanson took a low shot from Anderson at the top of the crease and redirected between Kuhn's legs for Alaska's first lead of the night.
Adam Courchaine (16-8-4) earned the win in goal by stopping 16 shots.