With Wednesday's announcement of four returning players, the Alaska Aces have revealed nearly their entire training-camp roster, which breaks down to about two-thirds returners and one-third new guys.
The ECHL club reported defensemen Russ Sinkewich and Danny Markowitz and forwards Zach Harrison and Matt Ambroz will all be back when training camp opens Friday.
That gives the Aces 20 signed players they have announced -- newcomer defenseman Corey Syvret hasn't officially been announced as signed, but the club says he has agreed to contract terms. So, make it 21 guys, which breaks down to 13 returners and eight newcomers.
Aces coach Rob Murray said the significant number of newcomers stemmed from retirements and departures. First-line forwards Brian Swanson and Wes Goldie retired last spring, and defensemen Bryan Miller and Chad Anderson called it a career over the summer. Winger Dan Kissel, last year's leading scorer, opted for Europe, and center Chris Langkow's rights were traded to complete a previous deal.
"Essentially, (the roster) played out that way because I didn't have a choice with the exodus of guys,'' Murray explained.
In Sinkewich, 27, the Aces regain a shutdown defenseman who actually spent more time last season in the American Hockey League than in the ECHL. With many borderline NHL players sent to AHL camps because of the NHL lockout, guys who, like Sinkewich, have bounced between the AHL and ECHL are ending up back in the ECHL.
Sinkewich last season earned 2-4--6 totals and a plus-13 rating in 23 games for the Aces. This will be his third season with the club -- he was part of its 2011 Kelly Cup championship crew.
Harrison, 24, returns for a third season with Alaska after putting up 8-22--30 and plus-7 totals in 63 games last season. Ambroz, 25, went 3-7--10 and plus-4 in 48 games, and finished last season inactive because of a concussion. The turnover in the roster may afford them a chance to gain more meaningful playing time this season.
"It's now their time to take the opportunity to get the minutes a Wes Goldie or a Brian Swanson used to get,'' Murray said.
The Aces last season plucked Markowitz, 24, out of the Southern Professional Hockey League at a time they were very thin on the blue line. He also played some wing for the Aces when their forward ranks were decimated. In 47 games, he put up 1-3--4 and plus-1 totals.
"He'd do anything for you that you wanted, and you have to appreciate that,'' Murray said.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Aces roster The ECHL's Alaska Aces so far have announced 20 signed players for their training camp that opens Friday, plus defenseman Corey Syvret, who the club says has agreed to terms. Here's the breakdown: Goaltenders (3) -- Gerald Coleman, James Reid, Mark Guggenberger. Defensemen (7) -- Steve Ward, Kane Lafranchise, Russ Sinkewich, Danny Markowitz, Sean Curry, Corey Syvret, Todd Orlando. Forwards (11) -- Nick Mazzolini, Garry Nunn, Jordan Kremyr, Tyler Ruegsegger, Zach Harrison, Matt Ambroz, Tim Hall, Matt Robinson, Bobby Hughes, Tommy Mele, Jarred Smith.Blog: Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News