The Alaska Aces built Saturday night's redemptive 5-0 victory over the San Francisco Bulls on good planning, good fortune, good goaltending and a good role reversal.
There was Dustin Molle, a defenseman by trade, who for the second straight night cracked the lineup as the 10th, spare forward. But when veteran defenseman Sean Curry left the hockey game at Sullivan Arena early with an undisclosed injury after spinning awkwardly, Molle moved back to the blue line in a transition coach Rob Murray called seamless. Molle furnished an assist and a plus-2 rating.
There was winger Evan Trupp, who scored two goals, the first of which came on a power-play redirection that fortuitously ricocheted into the net off the leg of Bulls defenseman Damon Kipp.
There was goaltender Joni Ortio, the 22-year-old Finn, who one night after surrendering a late and soft game-winning goal in his Aces debut, a 2-1 season-opening loss to the Bulls, delivered 17 saves for his first North American shutout.
There was defenseman B.J. Crum, who was only on a power-play unit because of Curry's absence. All Crum did was furnish the second power-play goal in his 158 career ECHL games.
And there was winger Peter Sivak, who last season scored 33 goals for the Bulls -- compared to 23 assists -- yet Saturday racked four assists for the Aces to give him five helpers on the weekend.
The Aces, stymied by Tyler Beskorowany's 44-save gem Friday, kept peppering the 6-foot-5 goalie Saturday, unloading 39 shots on the way to outshooting the Bulls 83-36 on the weekend.
At the other end, Ortio continued to learn what his Aces colleagues Gerald Coleman and Mark Guggenberger already know: Playing behind the Aces can test a goalie's focus, because the team often goes long stretches without allowing the opponent a high-quality scoring chance.
"At times, it can be tough,'' Ortio said. "Like tonight, in the first period they had me down for two shots (faced), and I think it was only one. You can't take time off and lay back. You have to be ready.''
Molle, who occasionally played the wing for Alaska last season, not only gained a secondary assist on Jordan Kremyr's opening goal 12 minutes into the game, but the 6-2, 225-pounder also screened Beskorowany.
"Wouldn't have gone in without him,'' Kremyr said.
Trupp's power-play goal midway through the second period, which pushed the lead to 2-0, came when he stationed himself between the circles and made a shoveling redirection of Sivak's feed from the right wing.
"We actually worked on that exact play after practice (Saturday morning) because I think I tipped two of those wide (in Friday's game),'' Trupp said. "And sure enough, that's how I got my first one.''
Sivak provided the primary assist on both of Trupp's goals, Crum's goal and a late goal from rookie defenseman Zach Davies, who scored for the first time as a pro. The four assists were an ECHL high for Sivak.
"I keep trying to give him the puck,'' Trupp said, grinning, "and he keeps dishing it away.''
Crum's goal, the second of the Aces' three third-period goals, came when he accepted a pass from Sivak atop the left circle, faked a shot, then snapped the puck past Beskorowany. For a guy known as a stay-at-home defenseman, he looked like a guy with some tools in his kit.
"I didn't know I have it in the bag, but apparently I do,'' Crum said, smiling.
Davies' late goal, on a long wrister to the glove side, was the only soft goal Beskorowany surrendered on the weekend.
But no one will remember the details when Davies is in his dotage. Davies, who also had an assist, can tell folks he roofed a wrister off the crossbar and chipped the red paint off the iron. And that his goal was the game winner, not the final strike in a lopsided win.
Murray made several lineup changes from Friday night.
He inserted winger Tommy Mele (assist, plus-2) and defensemen Crum and Ben Parker into the lineup. Out came winger Robert Farmer and defensemen Corey Syvret and Brad Richard.
Trupp, Sivak, Davies and defenseman Kane Lafranchise (assist, plus-3) each fired five shots on goal.
The Aces next travel to Las Vegas for a three-game series against the Wranglers (1-0-0) that opens Friday night.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
San Francisco 0 0 0 -- 0
Aces 1 1 3 -- 5
First Period -- 1, Aces, Kremyr 1 (Mele, Molle), 11:59. Penalties -- Mele, Aces (high-sticking), :30; Kipp, SF (tripping), 5:04.
Second Period -- 2, Aces, Trupp 1 (Sivak, Davies), 9:57 (pp). Penalties -- Judson, SF (hooking), 1:44; King, SF (boarding), 2:40; Belan, SF (tripping), 9:16; Connolly, Aces (boarding), 11:58; Morrison, SF (holding), 15:17.
Third Period -- 3, Aces, Trupp 2 (Sivak, Lafranchise), 1:47; 4, Aces, Crum 1 (Sivak, Mazzolini), 7:55 (pp); 5, Aces, Davies 1 (Sivak), 18:02. Penalties -- Lee, SF (cross-checking), 4:51; Parnham, SF (cross-checking), 6:20; Trupp, Aces (closing hand on puck), 10:20; Crane, SF, double-minor (high-sticking), 18:59.
Shots on goal -- San Francisco 2-9-6--17. Aces 17-9-13--39.
Power-play Opportunities -- San Francisco 0 of 4 Aces 2 of 8.
Goalies -- San Francisco, Beskorowany, 1-1-0 (39 shots-34 saves). Aces, Ortio, 1-1-0 (39-34).
A -- 4,948 (6,399). T -- 2:21.
Referee -- Peter Tarnaris. Linesmen -- Scott Sivulich, Steve Glines.