Return of Imbeault and Ward should bolster Aces' lineup in Colorado

dwoody@adn.comMarch 19, 2013 

— Alexandre Imbeault came off the practice ice at Ben Boeke Arena on Monday morning flashing his customary grin, which rates somewhere in the range of mischievous and impish.

The Alaska Aces winger has missed four straight games, and eight of the last 13, with a bothersome back, but his participation in a full practice signals he should be in the lineup Wednesday night at Colorado. Well, provided he did not get the dreaded middle seat on the flights Outside and suffer from it.

Imbeault said his back was a bit stiff, but nothing more, after his first practice in more than a week.

"No pain, so that's good,'' Imbeault said. "Other than feeling like I'm going to pass out, I'm fine.''

As the ECHL-leading Aces try to rebound from gaining just a single point out of a three-game homestand against the Idaho Steelheads last week, their lineup should be bolstered for a three-game series against the Eagles.

Captain Steve Ward practiced Monday and said he felt fine after sitting out last Saturday's 2-0 loss to Idaho -- he took a big hit from Idaho's Chase Schaber in Friday's 4-3 loss.

Also, the NHL's St. Louis Blues assigned 6-foot-7, second-year defenseman Brett Ponich to the Aces from Peoria of the American Hockey League and he will join the club in Loveland, Colo. Ponich already is ECHL playoff-eligible because he has played 13 games for Evansville this season.

The Aces' magic number for winning the Mountain Division remains at five. Their magic number for winning a third straight Brabham Cup as overall regular-season champions still is seven. Alaska's two closest pursuers for the Brabham, Ontario (six points back) and Idaho (eight points back), open a three-game series in Boise on Wednesday night.

Among five teams left in the Brabham chase, Alaska is the only one that does not have any home games remaining, and its upcoming opponents' .617 winning percentage is the second-highest among the five contenders for the Cup.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

Chase for the Cup Gaining just one point from three homes games against the Idaho Steelheads didn’t do the Alaska Aces much good last week, but they still lead the chase for the ECHL’s Brabham Cup as regular-season champions. The Brabham winner earns home ice throughout the Kelly Cup playoffs. Here’s how the chase stands with two weeks remaining in the regular season: Games Left Opponents’
Team Record Points (Home/Road) winning %
Alaska Aces 46-14-7 99 5 (0 home, 5 road) .617
Ontario Reign 43-16-7 93 6 (2 home, 4 road) .651
Idaho 42-17-7 91 6 (3 home, 3 road) .552
Reading Royals 42-18-6 90 6 (2 home, 4 road) .508
Cin. Cyclones 40-18-6 88 6 (2 home, 4 road) .513

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