Aces will bring back Coleman

Doyle Woody

Good hockey teams are often built from the back end forward - rarely does anything trump great goaltending - and the Alaska Aces are off to a big start on that front.

The perennial ECHL contenders, and two-time Kelly Cup champions, on Thursday announced the return of 6-foot-5 goalie Gerald Coleman, who in two previous seasons for the club has delivered a .711 winning percentage in all games.

The announcement of Coleman's return was the first signing the Aces have revealed for 2012-13. If tradition holds, the club will announce signings weekly during the next two months.

Coleman, 27, two seasons ago was the circuit's Goaltender of the Year and backstopped the Aces to the Kelly Cup.

In two seasons with the Aces, counting regular-season matches and playoff games, Coleman has gone 64-24-7 with a 2.04 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and 11 shutouts.

"There are really good goaltenders in this league, and he's the best guy I've seen at this level,'' said Aces coach Rob Murray. "Any time Gerald is in net, I don't care what lineup is in front of him, we have a chance to win. That's all you can ask of a goalie.''

Coleman will not, however, be ready for the start of the upcoming season.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left hip on May 25, when bone spurs were removed and a torn labrum repaired. Coleman anticipates being ready for games around Thanksgiving, and is excited to play without pain and return to an organization that values him.

"I feel like I don't have the pain I've had pretty much the last year and a half, and it was nice to figure out what was wrong,'' Coleman said. "For me, I figured I wanted to come back and be comfortable in a situation where I can ease my way back in.

"I'm excited to walk around with no pain or discomfort. It's unbelievable.''

Coleman said his surgery no doubt scared off interest from American Hockey League teams. In an extended loan to the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL last season, Coleman went 11-4-2 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He believes if he returns to form, AHL clubs could again have interest in him.

Murray, the Aces' second-year bench boss, said he believes a cornerstone goalie like Coleman is the most important building block for a team, even more than a No. 1 center or shutdown defenseman.

"That's a priority for you team, the utmost priority,'' Murray said. "When he comes back, I'm confident he's going to be as good as he ever was, and you can't ask for more than that in building a club.''

Coleman is currently rehabbing after surgery and eager to regain his strength - he usually plays at about 210 pounds, and is currently just under 200.

In the meantime, he has exciting non-hockey news - he and his girlfriend, Hailey Widmayer, are expecting their first child in October.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at or call him at 257-4335.

Grand goaltending

In the past two hockey seasons, Alaska Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman has been as good as any masked man in the ECHL. His production is proff, so check out his combined regular-season and playoff stats for the club in the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons:


Record GAA Save percentage Shutouts

48-20-5 2.10 .918 7


Record GAA Save percentage Shutouts

16-4-2 1.85 .932 4

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