The Blog spoke with Alaska Aces coach Rob Murray by phone this afternoon and, not unexpectedly, he'll give new addition Andy Taranto, the right wing from UAF, significant ice time in games tonight and Saturday night at Ontario to end the ECHL regular season.
The Aces released rookie winger Jarred Smith this week to make room for Taranto, who racked 59 goals in four seasons at UAF.
"We have all intentions (Taranto) will be on our playoff roster,'' Murray said. "Right now, it's like a tryout. It's very beneficial for him and us to get him in quickly so we can get a look at him and, because these games are essentially meaningless, we can play him in all situations.''
With Aces leading scorer/center Nick Mazzolini home to rest for the Kelly Cup playoffs, Taranto will play right wing on a line with center Bobby Hughes and left winger Tim Hall.
"That gives him the best opportunity to have success, considering Mazz isn't on the trip,'' Murray said.
Murray said he watched a broadcast of Taranto playing in a game against Bowling Green this season, and his assistant coaches, Scott Burt and Louis Mass, watched Taranto in the Governor's Cup game against UAA at Sullivan Arena recently. Murray said Taranto received a strong recommendation from Nanooks bench boss Dallas Ferguson, who The Blog knows as a straight shooter. Also, former Aces defenseman Corbin Schmidt is one of Ferguson's assistants, so you can be fairly sure the Aces checked with Schmidt,
One last consideration. Provided he passes muster, Taranto in the playoffs could give the Aces a nice option if right wing Alexandre Imbeault's back keeps acting up -- Murray said that is one consideration in adding Taranto, who the Aces have been targeting for weeks.
Imbeault remained in Anchorage this week to continue receiving treatment on his back.
In other ECHL news, the Stockton Thunder released former Aces winger Matt Ambroz (1-6--7 in 25 games for Stockton). Also, former UAA winger Tommy Grant has been assigned back to San Francisco, where he was 1-4--5 in four games before a recent brief call-up back to AHL Worcester; and former UAF goalie Scott Greenham has returned back to ECHL Bakersfield, the only Western Conference team not to make the playoffs, after a stint with AHL St. John's, which is coached by former Aces bench boss Keith McCambridge.