Coast-to-coast in hockey usually refers to a rink-long rush.
Shawn Skelly made the phrase literal last season.
The winger began the 2012-13 campaign with the Southern Professional Hockey League's Mississippi Surge on the Gulf Coast before a trade inland to the league's Augusta (Ga.) RiverHawks. When the NHL lockout ended in January and the ECHL's Alaska Aces were hurting for bodies, they plucked Skelly on a loan from Augusta. In March, the Aces traded him to ECHL Bakersfield as part of a package that landed them first-line left winger Evan Trupp of Anchorage.
After all that, Skelly is headed back to the Aces.
The Aces on Tuesday announced they have signed Skelly, 26, bringing to 20 the number of players on board for training camp.
Skelly, a prolific scorer in NCAA Division III at Adrian College (Mich.), where he averaged 2.03 points per game in four seasons, and nearly a point-per-game guy (.92) in the SPHL, served the Aces well in his first extended stint in the ECHL.
He generated 7-7--14 totals and a plus-10 rating in 19 games, strong work considering his jump to the ECHL from the SPHL, one rung lower on pro hockey's ladder.
Skelly's trade to Bakersfield wasn't so much about him and defenseman Chris Haltigin, who the Aces also moved in the deal, but about Trupp. Aces coach Rob Murray saw Trupp as a first-liner and an upgrade, and he put him on center Nick Mazzolini's left wing. Trupp went 2-6--8 and plus-2 in 10 regular-season games and has re-signed with the Aces, as had team-leading scorer Mazzolini.
And yet the Aces got Skelly back at basically no cost because the only offseason deal Skelly signed was with SPHL Pensacola. He was a free agent to ECHL teams.
In 52 combined games with four teams last season, Skelly notched 24-22--46 totals and a plus-12 rating.
He played in two games for Bakersfield (two assists, plus-2) before suffering a broken finger that required surgery.
Here are the 20 players who have so far signed with the Alaska Aces:
Forwards (11) -- Nick Mazzolini, Evan Trupp, Andy Taranto, Peter Sivak, Tommy Mele, Jordan Kremyr, Spencer Bennett, Shawn Skelly, Eli Zuck, Tim Coffman, Robert Farmer.
Defensemen (7) -- Kane Lafranchise, Sean Curry, B.J. Crum, Dustin Molle, Ben Parker, Brad Richard, Matt Ridley.
Goaltenders (2) -- Gerald Coleman, Mark Guggenberger.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.