Jeff Corey is the rare visiting hockey player who can score an overtime goal at Sullivan Arena, as he did Friday night to thwart the Alaska Aces, and not even rank it as his best memory of the joint.
Corey's strike 39 seconds into extra time lifted the Ontario Reign to a 2-1 ECHL win before an announced crowd of 5,249, and he was psyched to score the goal that snapped his club's seven-game winless streak.
Still, that lands a distant second on his list of career memories at Sullivan.
When the Reign skated at Sullivan on Thursday afternoon, Corey could not help but think back to 2009, when he lifted the Kelly Cup on the rink after he helped the South Carolina Stingrays beat the Aces in Game 7 of the Finals.
"I got the chills thinking about it,'' Corey said. "It's the best memory of my life.
"The boys in there," -- he nodded at the visitors' dressing room -- "they tease me, (tell me) 'Let it go.' "
Corey said his South Carolina teammate from that season -- former Aces defenseman Patrick Wellar, who helped Alaska to the 2006 Kelly Cup -- always has a ready rejoinder for such talk from guys who haven't been responsible for a championship banner unveiled: "When you hang cloth, you can talk to me.''
Corey added another Sullivan memory in overtime Friday, when he walked around the Aces defense, cut to the middle of the ice and scored from the slot to give Ontario a desperately needed win and reward a terrific performance by Reign goaltender Kellen Briggs (38 saves).
Corey got around Aces defenseman Mark Isherwood on left wing, cut to the slot, avoided a poke-check by Aces defenseman Steve Ward and whistled a shot past goaltender Gerald Coleman.
"Coleman's a great goaltender and he's so big (6-foot-5),'' Corey said. "I thought, 'If I take him east-west, maybe I can take him five-hole.' ''
That an Aces home game went to overtime seemed normal -- four of their five games at Sullivan this season have required OT, and they won the first three.
The Aces carried momentum into the game -- Alaska went 4-1, including two wins against Ontario, on its recent five-game road trip -- and they even outshot the Reign, 39-14. But Briggs, who made 24 saves in the Aces' 1-0 win over Ontario in California last week, proved tough to crack.
"Kellen Briggs played on his head, just like that 1-0 game down there,'' said Aces captain Scott Burt.
Briggs especially stifled Aces wing Wes Goldie, who fired a game-high eight shots on goal, several of them from point-blank range.
The clubs, which are in the midst of five consecutive games against each other, played more than 50 minutes of scoreless hockey before Aces wing Scott Howes ended the drought. Howes, who scored the goal in that 1-0 game last week, cut left to right through the low slot and redirected Chris Langkow's centering pass over Briggs' shoulder and just beneath the crossbar for a 1-0 Aces lead at 10:46 of the third period.
That brought a cascade of Teddy Bears onto the ice -- as part of the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots program on Military Appreciation Weekend, fans throw stuffed animals on the ice after the Aces' first goal.
Following a delay of about four minutes to clear the ice, the Reign needed all of 15 seconds to respond and forge a 1-1 tie when Michael Pelech jammed in a rebound of a shot by former UAA defenseman Luke Beaverson.
"It would be nice to drop the puck and have that momentum, but that's hockey," said Aces center Brian Swanson. "But one thing coach (Brent Thompson) always talks about is how important the shift after a goal is. Those aren't goals we can allow.''
The Aces came up empty on five power plays to drive their league-worst efficiency with the man advantage down to 6.1 percent.
Though the Aces outshot the Reign 26-8 in the first 40 minutes, many of their best scoring chances came in the third period, and in OT, when Briggs made a pad save on Goldie.
"I don't know if we were flat, or what," Swanson said. "We just didn't have that sharpness we had on the road trip.
"I guess it came back to bite us.''
Shuffling the deck
• Aces veteran defenseman Bryan Miller sat out his second straight game with an abdominal strain.
• Aces defenseman Chad Anderson, on promotion to Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, played in the Monsters' 4-0 loss to visiting Milwaukee on Friday night. Anderson went minus-1 with one shot on goal.
• The announced crowd of 5,249 was Alaska's largest in five home games this season and raised its average attendance to 4,675, seventh in the 19-team league.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Ontario 0 0 1 1 -- 2
Aces 0 0 1 0 -- 1
First Period -- None. Penalties - Caffaro, Ontario (interference), 4:44; Cox, Aces (slashing), 15:46; Collins, Ontario (tripping), 15:33; Collins, Ontario (holding), 19:42.
Second Period -- None. Penalties - Goldie, Aces (roughing), 10:32; Collins, Ontario (roughing), 10:32.
Third Period - 1, Aces, Howes 4 (Langkow, Goldie), 10:26; 2, Ontario, Pelech 1 (Beaverson, Johnson), 10:41. Penalties - Corey, Ontario (hooking), 6:03; Swanson, Aces (tripping), 7:19; O'Malley, Ontario (goaltender interference), 11:23; Howes, Aces (hooking), 12:13.
Overtime - 3, Ontario, Corey 4, :39. Penalties -- None.
Shots on goal - Ontario 4-4-5-1--14. Aces 14-12-12-1--39.
Power-play Opportunities - Ontario 0 of 3; Aces 0 of 5.
Goalies - Ontario, Briggs, 2-5-1 (39 shots-38 saves). Aces, Coleman, 5-2-1 (14-12).
A - 5,249 (6,396). T - 2:22.
Referee - Ryan Murphy. Linesmen - Scott Sivulich, Travis Jackson.Photos: Aces v. Ontario Reign
Blog: Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY