Kane Lafranchise was a healthy scratch for the Alaska Aces on opening night last October.
By hockey season's end, he was nearly indispensable.
No wonder coach Rob Murray calls Lafranchise the club's most improved player last season -- and no wonder he wanted the 24-year-old back on the blue line for the ECHL club.
The Aces on Thursday announced two more signings for the upcoming season in Lafranchise and returning winger Jordan Kremyr.
Those additions make five players, all returners, who the Aces have announced for the 2012-13 season.
Previously revealed were former ECHL Goaltender of the Year Gerald Coleman, last season's leading scorer Dan Kissel and scoring center Nick Mazzolini.
Technically still a rookie last season even though he played 22 games for the Aces in 2010-11 -- fewer than 25 regular-season pro games constitutes an ECHL rookie -- Lafranchise turned into a rookie revelation.
By season's end, the former UAA defenseman was regularly paired with All-ECHL first-teamer Bryan Miller as Alaska's top offensive duo on defense, held a spot on the second power-play unit and killed penalties.
Lafranchise delivered 3-31--34 totals in 69 games, which ranked second behind Miller on the Aces and sixth among rookie blueliners in the ECHL. Plus, his plus-minus rating of plus-20 led the Aces and tied for eighth in the league.
The Aces will look to Lafranchise to continue his offensive production and to use his skating and accurate breakout passes to kick-start the attack.
Kremyr, 26, played one game for the Aces as a fill-in two seasons ago after finishing his college career at Providence, and entered training camp as a rookie last fall with no assurances he would make the roster. Even though he was injured in training camp, he made the cut and played in 52 regular-season games, earning 14-10--24 totals -- he was fifth on the team in goals -- and a plus-9 rating.
Kremyr primarily played on the third line and killed penalties, and his three short-handed goals tied for the team lead. He plays a straight-ahead game that features a little of everything -- some scoring, hitting, a willingness to crash the crease and the occasional fight.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
The Alaska Aces have announced five players, all returners, for the 2012-13 season:
Gerald Coleman, goaltender
Dan Kissel, winger
Nick Mazzolini, center
Kane Lafranchise, defenseman
Jordan Kremyr, winger