Opportunities rarely come more splendid than the ones the Alaska Aces were afforded in overtime Tuesday night on the road against the Ontario Reign.
Mark them down as opportunities squandered by the ECHL leaders.
While you're at it, mark down the Aces for a 4-3 shootout loss at Citizens Business Bank Arena in California.
The Aces enjoyed two power plays in overtime. They had the man-advantage for 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the five-minute OT. And, remember, the manpower advantage is 4-on-3 in extra time, so that affords a power play even more room to operate.
But Ontario's league-leading, penalty- killing crew snuffed both Alaska power plays in OT to add to the two it burned off in the third period, and has killed 24 straight opposing power plays.
Ontario won the shootout, 2-0, on goals from Steven Tarasuk and Kyle Kraemer. The Aces came up a bust on all four shots against Reign goaltender Chris Carrozzi. Carrozzi made 31 saves in overtime and regulation, and proved a deserving winner.
While the Aces (31-9-6) managed to snap their three-game losing streak while playing their fifth game in seven nights, they now own a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) heading into a three-game series at Las Vegas beginning Thursday night.
The last time the Aces, the defending Kelly Cup champions, went four straight hockey games without a regulation victory more than a year ago -- Jan. 12-21, 2011 -- when they lost six straight in regulation.
On the upside, the Aces twice rallied from one-goal deficits in the third period Tuesday night, using Zach Harrison's goal to gain a 2-2 tie and Jordan Kremyr's goal to offset Derek Couture's team-leading 20th goal for the Reign and forge a 3-3 tie.
Both goals came shortly after Alaska power plays expired. Kremyr's came 12 seconds after the man advantage lapsed and Harrison's five seconds after a Reign skater was freed from the penalty box.
Harrison, a second-year pro, extended his point streak to a career-best six games.
Not so encouraging for the Aces -- all three Ontario (24-14-4) goals came off Alaska turnovers. Nick Mazzolini, Tyson Marsh and Kane Lafranchise each lost a puck that soon ended up behind Aces goalie Adam Courchaine (21 saves).
Lafranchise redeemed himself with a pair of assists, one on a shot that Kremyr deflected with less than five minutes to go in regulation and one on Dan Kissel's first-period goal to open the scoring. Garry Nunn also furnished the Aces with two assists.
Ontario has won four straight games.
In the Aces' four-game winless streak, opposing goalies have combined for a .938 save percentage.
The Aces fell to 3-4 in shootouts this season, and are 0-4 in road shootouts.
Shuffling the deck
Kissel's goal was his 24th, one shy of Wes Goldie's team-leading total. Kissel fired a game-high seven shots on goal and has cranked off 20 shots on goal in the last three games.
Goldie has been held without a point in four straight games.
The Aces' three goals snapped a string of two straight games in which they scored just one goal. Only once in the franchise's nine-season history in the ECHL have the Aces been held to one goal or fewer in three straight games -- that came in .
Courchaine's start was his 10th straight, a pro high for the second-year goalie.
Rookie winger Matt Ambroz returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with an upper-body injury. Captain Brian Swanson missed his ninth straight game with an upper-body injury.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Ontario wins shootout 2-0
Aces 1 0 2 0 -- 3
Ontario 1 1 1 1 -- 4
First Period -- 1, Aces, Kissel 24 (Nunn, Lafranchise), 10:57; 2, Ontario, Van de Mosselaer 1 (Calla, Cloud), 18:57. Penalties -- Ward, Aces (delay of game-puck over glass), 16:25.
Second Period -- 3, Ontario, Calla 5 (Kraemer), 15:11. Penalties -- None.
Third Period -- 4, Aces, Harrison 5 (Nunn), 2:59; 5, Ontario, Couture 20 (Irwin), 12:01; 6, Aces, Kremyr 11 (Lafranchise, Cox), 15:24. Penalties -- Bagron, Ontario (tripping), :54; Mazur, Ontario (interference), 13:12; Van de Mosselaer, Ontario (high-sticking), 19:42.
Overtime -- None. Penalties -- Stretch, Ontario (high-sticking), 2:48.
Shootout -- Ontario 2 (Stretch NG, Tarasuk G, Kraemer G), Aces 0 (Kissel NG, Goldie NG, Mazzolini NG, Nunn NG).
Shots on goal -- Aces 5-9-14-6--34. Ontario 8-6-8-2--24.
Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 4. Ontario 0 of 1.
Goalies -- Aces, Courchaine, 14-5-4 (24 shots-21 saves). Ontario, Carrozzi, 9-5-3 (34-31).
A -- 4,590 (9,592). T -- 2:30.
Referee -- J.M. McNulty. Linesmen -- James Parker, Michel Voyer.Blog: Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News