Aces: Coleman is back in the fold

Gerald Coleman's time-table to return to the Alaska Aces' lineup from offseason hip surgery has gone according to plan -- he wanted to be back around Thanksgiving, and today the Aces added the goaltender to the active roster.

Coleman, the club's No. 1 goalie each of the previous two seasons -- and the masked man who backstopped them to the 2011 Kelly Cup -- will accompany the team when it leaves town Tuesday on a six-game, five-city road trip.

Aces coach Rob Murray said Coleman will play on the trip at some point, though not in Wednesday's opener in Idaho.

After months of diligent rehabilitation -- "Everything was baby steps,'' Coleman said -- Coleman said he's ready to roll.

"Physically, I feel in shape, and now it's just a matter of trusting my hip,'' he said. "Pretty eager. It's frustrating sitting in the stands watching, but with the team winning, it makes it a lot easier.

"I don't want to be the weak link, saying, 'Oh, I haven't played in six months.' I'm excited. You're always going to be nervous for the first game, but that goes away after the first shot.''

Coleman said doctors and the team were cautious about his return.

"They wanted me to be 100 percent for 80 percent of the season, instead of being 80 percent for 100 percent of the season,'' Coleman said.

In Coleman's absence, Mark Guggenberger has served the Aces exceptionally well, going 10-3-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .900 save percentage and two shutouts. He could probably use a break -- Guggenberger has made 12 consecutive starts.

With Coleman activated, the Aces in a procedural move released goalie Drew O'Connell of Anchorage, who served as Guggerberger's back-up in a three-game sweep of Colorado last week.

Meanwhile, injured goalie James Reid (high ankle sprain) is doing better. He's out of the walking boot he was wearing.

Also on the injury front, captain Steve Ward (broken leg, surgery) said he had an X-ray this morning and doctors told him he is healing well. Now, he is allowed to put weight on his right leg.

Also still not practicing, besides Ward and Reid, are rookie winger Tim Hall (upper-body injury) and veteran winger Brandon Dubinsky (broken hand).

This already has been a difficult season for the Aces on the injury front -- a total of 11 players have missed a combined 98 games due to injury.