Aces head to Utah as long road trip continues

dwoody@adn.comDecember 3, 2013 

Burdened with two losses to open a road trip that still stretches for six more hockey games, the Alaska Aces on Wednesday night will try to resurrect their winning ways.

Buoyed by the return of defenseman James Martin from a short gig with Abbotsford of the American Hockey League, the Aces take on the Utah Grizzlies for the first time in an ECHL series that continues Friday and wraps up Saturday.

Martin leads Aces defensemen in scoring with eight assists in 14 games, and he owns a plus-12 rating that is tied for the team lead and highest among the club's blueliners.

His return is timely because defenseman Brad Gorham of Anchorage is back to his engineering job. Gorham flew into Colorado last week to aid a blue line thinned by injuries and AHL promotions. The Martin-for-Gorham switch keeps the Aces at six healthy defensemen, the number teams dress for games.

The Aces have also flown in rookie center Eli Zuck, who did not travel with the team to start the trip.

Alaska still is down to one goaltender, Olivier Roy, and will again employ an emergency back-up goalie in Utah.

The Aces remain the stingiest team in the ECHL, surrendering just 1.75 goals per game. They should provide a stiff test for the Grizzlies, whose average of 2.19 goals per game ranks 18th on the 22-team circuit.

It'll be interesting to see if Alaska can continue a trend that makes it an anomaly in the ECHL -- they are the only team that has yet to play an overtime game. Every other team has been to overtime at least twice, and 18 of the other 21 teams have been to overtime at least three times.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog

Alaska Aces

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Utah Grizzlies

6-8-2

Wednesday, 5:05 p.m. AST

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