Gerald Coleman made numerous nice saves for the Alaska Aces on Saturday at Sullivan Arena, but one of his 26 provided an acrobatic highlight that few onlookers will forget.
Having already survived some of Stockton's strong early scoring chances to help maintain a scoreless tie, Coleman appeared to let down his guard early in the second period when he slipped behind the net to retrieve his stick.
The puck was in the Stockton zone when he vacated the goal, but it wasn't there for long. A quick turnover gave Stockton a breakaway toward a wide-open net and when Jordan Fulton fired a shot from the high slot, Coleman had little choice but to leave his feet for a dramatic, leaping-kick save that looked more suited to a kung-fu film than an ice rink.
The puck safely kicked away, the crowd let loose with ringing cowbells of approval.
The game didn't end the way Coleman or the cowbell-toting fans would have liked, however, with Stockton's Chris D'Alvise flipping a game- winning goal over Coleman's left shoulder in overtime for a 3-2 ECHL win in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. The overtime goal was a third unanswered for the Thunder, who evened the series at 1-1.
Coleman was last season's ECHL goaltender of the Year, helping the Aces win a Kelly Cup and leading the league in goals-against average, and he'll have to draw on that championship experience in the rest of the series.
The Thunder have shown an ability to get off plenty of quality shots against the 6-foot-5 goalie from Evanston, Ill. The Aces outshot Stockton 40-29 on Saturday, but Coleman needed several big saves in the first period to keep the Thunder from racing to multi-goal lead.
Stockton's Max Campbell and Kevin Baker finally got the better of Coleman in the second period, matching a pair of Alaska goals to even the score at 2-2.
Coleman, who has spent time in the American Hockey League for all or part of six professional seasons, played to an 11-4-2 record with the Lake Erie Monsters this season, before returning to the Aces in March.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.