Aces down Utah in shootout

dwoody@adn.comDecember 6, 2013 

Handcuffed again by their inability to generate goals, the Alaska Aces on Friday night turned to the only alternative remaining to halt their three-game losing streak: Sublime goaltending.

Olivier Roy turned aside 26 shots in regulation and overtime, and stymied all four Utah Grizzlies bids in the shootout to deliver the Aces a 1-0 ECHL road victory at the Maverick Center in West Valley City.

Evan Trupp and Brendan Connolly bagged shootout goals in the first two rounds, and Roy denied Rylan Galiardi, Danick Paquette, David Vallorani and Vinny Scarsella.

Alaska became the last team on the 22-team circuit to play a game that stretched to overtime. The Aces also became the last team in the league to go to a shootout.

The Aces (12-6-0) snapped the three-game losing streak that opened their eight-game road trip. They scored just four goals in those three hockey games and were coming off a 2-0 loss to Utah on Wednesday. They still haven't beaten Igor Bobkov for an actual goal - regulation or overtime - in 55 shots. Yet they cashed in for two points in the standings by returning to the strong defense and goaltending that have sustained them nearly all season.

In those three losses, Roy racked a .918 save percentage, so blame did not fall on his shoulders. With Friday's performance, he owns a .935 save percentage in the four road games to start a trip that continues Saturday night with the series finale at Utah (7-9-2) before heading to Idaho for the final three games of the journey.

Alaska's struggles on the power play continued Friday, when the Aces came up empty on seven opportunities. They have failed to score on their last 15 opportunities with the man advantage, dating back to the road-trip opener in Colorado.

Yet, after giving the Grizzlies seven power-play chances Wednesday, the most the Aces have granted an opponent this season, they returned to their disciplined ways Friday. Alaska gave Utah just two power plays.

The Aces also cut down on the number of shots they were surrendering on this trip. After giving up an average of more than 32 shots per game on the first three games of the roadie, they held Utah to those 26 shots Friday.

Still, the Aces have not scored a real goal in 165 minutes, 2 seconds, the equivalent of more than two games and two periods.

By game's end Friday, though, that didn't matter as much as snuffing a season-worst three-game losing streak.

Shuffling the deck

Roy, who is 2-4-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, is the fourth different Aces goalie to furnish a shutout this season. He joins Mark Guggenberger (who has since jumped the team to go to the Central Hockey League), Joni Ortio (who is up with Abbotsford of the American Hockey League) and Laurent Brossoit (who was involved in an NHL trade and is now with AHL Oklahoma City).

The Aces own six shutouts in 18 games.

The Aces placed rookie winger Andy Taranto on the 21-day injured list Friday after he suffered a shoulder injury Wednesday.

Defenseman Corey Syvret, who suffered a lower-body injury Wednesday, did not play Friday.

Connolly fired a game-high five shots on goal and defenseman James Martin cranked four shots.

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

Aces 0 0 0 1 1

Utah 0 0 0 0 0

First Period -- None. Penalties - Zahn, Utah (slashing), 4:46; Connolly, Aces (hooking), 7:54; Boe, Utah (tripping), 15:35.

Second Period -- None. Penalties - Parker, Aces (tripping), 9:23; Vallorani, Utah (tripping), 13:50; Boe, Utah (high-sticking), 16:35; Galiardi, Utah (cross-checking), 19:32.

Third Period -- None. Penalties - Ezekiel, Utah (boarding), 2:23; Pelech, Utah (interference), 7:40; Mazzolini, Aces (cross-checking), 7:40; O'Brien, Utah (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:08; Ring-Jarvi, Aces (unsportsmanlike conduct), 11:08; Galiardi, Utah (goaltender interference), 19:44.

Overtime - None. Penalties - None.

Shootout - Aces 2 (Trupp G, Connolly G, Coffman NG), Utah 0 (Galiardi NG, Paquette NG, Vallorani NG, Scarsella NG).

Shots on goal - Aces 7-7-8-4--26. Utah 9-8-8-1--26.

Power-play Opportunities - Aces 0 of 7. Utah 0 of 2.

Goalies - Aces, Roy, 2-4-0 (26 shots-26 saves). Utah, Bobkov, 3-4-2 (26-26).

A - 3,833 (10,200). T - 2:32.

Referee - Nick Leduc. Linesmen - Ed Henderson, James McKenna.

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