Fresh off a three-game sweep of Utah heading into the ECHL's Christmas break, the Alaska Aces return from holiday hiatus with Friday night's opener of a three-game series against Western Conference-leading Ontario.
And in keeping with one of their themes through the opening one-third of the season -- injuries, injuries, injuries -- the Aces will be without a principal player in winger Brendan Connolly, their fourth-leading scorer.
Connolly is out indefinitely after Utah's Kris Hogg last Saturday night delivered a two-handed slash that wrecked Connolly's face.
Aces coach Rob Murray said Thursday he had not yet been fully briefed on the extent of Connolly's injuries but was told he suffered a fractured maxilla -- that's the bone below the nose -- and significant damage to teeth. The league has suspended Hogg indefinitely pending a disciplinary hearing.
With Connolly coming out of the lineup, Murray said, center Tim Coffman will be back in against the Reign. Murray said he also expected defenseman James Martin, who missed the last game with an injury, to return to the lineup Friday.
Several Aces who would almost certainly be in the lineup every night if healthy remain sidelined.
Defensemen Sean Curry (lower-body injury) and Zach Davies (broken wrist, surgery) still are out, though Davies likely will be cleared to play soon. Also still out is defenseman Corey Syvret, who has missed the last eight games with a lower-body injury.
Winger Andy Taranto still is out with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Gerald Coleman, yet to play this season after undergoing offseason hip surgery, said he's feeling good and believes he could be cleared to play in the next couple weeks.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
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