Dissecting the Alaska Aces' 5-1 road loss to the Stockton Thunder didn't require analysis as much as an autopsy of the opening 20 minutes Sunday afternoon.
The first period revealed all the gory details that prompted the Aces' demise -- suffice to say Alaska showed up late for work at Stockton Arena -- and the continuation of the Thunder's best start in their ECHL hockey history.
The Aces (5-4-0) were outshot 17-3 in the opening 20 minutes -- this from a club that entered permitting opponents a league-low 22.38 shots per game and unloading 34.38 shots per game, second-best on the circuit. Stockton (7-1-1) unleashed the first 12 shots of the game.
For that matter, Stockton standout Toni Rajala outshot the Aces, 4-3, in the period. The Aces did not muster a shot on rookie Tyler Bunz (30 saves) until the game was about 12 minutes along. Sure, Stockton finished with an edge in shots of just 32-31, but the damage was done to the Aces in the first period, and at one point in the second period they trailed in shots 23-6.
The Aces also were whistled for all four penalties called in the first period (and busted for the first six infractions of the game).
And they gave up two first-period goals, both of the killer variety -- one extremely early, one extremely late. Rajala snatched an Aces turnover and beat Mark Guggenberger (27 saves) with the first shot of the game on a breakaway 77 seconds in. Defenseman Nathan Deck delivered a power-play strike with 8.9 seconds left in the period after Alaska's Garry Nunn was penalized for slashing Deck.
Rajala, who assisted on Deck's goal, racked three goals and two assists in two wins over the Aces -- Stockton torched Alaska 7-4 on Saturday night.
Yannick Riendeau added a second-period, power-play goal for Stockton, and Justin Maylan pushed the cushion to 4-0 early in the third period.
Alaska avoided a shutout when Alexandre Imbeault scored midway through the third period. But Harrison Reed answered for Stockton.
The Aces have lost the first two games on a five-game trip that continues Wednesday night at Las Vegas. Alaska never led in its two losses at Stockton.
Stockton, meanwhile, completed a 3-0-0 weekend -- the Thunder dispatched visiting Bakersfield 6-1 on Friday -- while stretching its win streak to six games and its unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1).
Shuffling the deck
The seven goals Alaska surrendered Saturday were the most in coach Rob Murray's two-season tenure.
Also, the 12 goals Alaska gave up in Stockton were the most it has surrendered in consecutive games since in Jan. 25 and 27, 2012, when it won 7-6 at Bakersfield and lost 6-3 at Stockton.
Imbeault's goal extended his point streak to all five games he has played since the Aces acquired him from Orlando.
Brandon Dubinsky's four-game point streak was snapped.
The Aces are 1-3-0 on the road.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Aces 0 0 1 1
Stockton 2 1 2 5
First Period -- 1, Stockton, Rajala 6, 1:17; 2, Stockton, Deck 1 (DeHart, Rajala), 19:51 (pp). Penalties -- Crabb, Aces (interference), 7:09; Thompson, Aces (high-sticking), 12:28; Lafranchise, Aces (delay of game-puck over glass), 13:47; Nunn, Aces (slashing), 19:41.
Second Period -- 3, Stockton, Riendeau 2 (Maylan, Reed), 3:12 (pp). Penalties -- Dubinsky, Aces (interference), 1:24; Kremyr, Aces (tripping), 5:46; Bergland, Stockton (holding the stick), 12:34; Crabb, Aces (hooking), 15:55; Noble, Stockton, major (fighting), 18:54; Mele, Aces, major (fighting), 18:54; Bergland, Stockton (roughing), 20:00; Sinkewich, Aces (roughing), 20:00.
Third Period -- 4, Stockton, Maylan 4 (Hunt, Reed), 3:22; 5, Aces, Imbeault 4 (Sinkewich), 9:49; 6, Stockton, Reed 3, 13:58. Penalties -- Henry, Stockton (holding), 4:38; Hunt, Stockton, major (fighting), 9:44; Curry, Aces, major (fighting), 9:49; Pelss, Stockton (hooking), 10:47; Hunter, Stockton (hooking), 18:43.
Shots on goal -- Aces 3-16-12--31. Stockton 17-9-6--32.
Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 4. Stockton 2 of 7.
Goalies -- Aces, Guggenberger, 4-3-0 (32 shots-27 saves). Stockton, Bunz, 5-1-1 (31-30).
A -- 4,194 (9,737). T -- 2:15.
Referee -- J.M. McNulty. Linesmen -- Brett Martin, Steven Walsh.