Aces stage third-period surge, but stagnant first two periods spell 2-1 loss to Idaho

Doyle Woody

Scratch the Alaska Aces' six-game winning streak.

Ditto for their three-game road winning streak.

The Idaho Steelheads beat the Aces 2-1 Wednesday night at CentryLink Arena in Boise to get the visitors' six-game road trip off to a disappointing start and create a three-way tie atop the ECHL's Western Conference.

Idaho, Alaska and Ontario each possess 22 points to tie for the conference lead.

The Aces hurt their cause by really only mustering their best effort in the third period. Trailing 2-0 entering the third, they outshot the Steelheads 16-4 in the final 20 minutes. And with goaltender Mark Guggenberger (26 saves) out for a sixth attacker in the final minutes, Aces defenseman Corey Syvret rang a shot off the crossbar in the waning seconds.

"It would have been nice to get a point,'' Aces coach Rob Murray told KFQD radio. "I don't know if we deserved it with the way with played in the first and second.''

Idaho rookie Josh Robinson, the former Michigan Tech goaltender, stopped 30 shots to remain unbeaten (6-0-1) in the play-for-pay game and helpsnap his club's two-game losing streak.

Guggenberger made his 13th consecutive start.

Wednesday's game opened an Aces road trip that covers six games in five cities and continues Friday night in Utah.

After a scoreless first period, the Steelheads (10-4-2) pierced the Aces (11-5-0) for a pair of goals in the first half of the second period, and both strikes came on rebounds.

Jacob Cepis opened the scoring less than three minutes into the period when he banged home a Kael Mouillierat rebound to notch his sixth goal in 11 career games against the Aces.

Six minutes later, rookie forward Austin Smith pushed the lead to 2-0 by cashing in on Adrian Foster's rebound. Smith, who last season led Division I college hockey with 36 goals in 39 games for Colgate, was recently sent to Idaho from Texas of the American Hockey League.

The Aces, who have not been shut out this season, kept that streak alive when Nick Mazzolini furnished his team-high ninth goal midway through the period to trim the deficit to 2-1. Mazzolini scored on a redirection of veteran defenseman Sean Curry's shot from the right point. The assist marked Curry's first point for the club and came in his ninth game.

After being outshot 24-15 in the first two periods, the Aces fired the first nine shots of the period before the Steelheads finally delivered a shot on goal just more than halfway through the period.

Alaska outshot Idaho, 13-1, in the first 13 minutes of the third period.


Shuffling the deck

The ECHL on Tuesday reported it has fined the Aces an undisclosed amount for violating a rule concerning roster limits.

Neither the ECHL nor the Aces would specify the infraction.

Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman served as Guggenberger's back-up, marking the first time he has dressed for a game this season. Coleman underwent hip surgery in the offseason. Coach Rob Murray said he will play on this road trip.

Mazzolini's goal also gave him the team lead in points with 9-6--15 totals in 16 games.

Alexandre Imbeault's goal drought sits at seven games. He was moved off the first line in the third period and replaced by Tommy Mele, who moved up from the third line.

The two power plays the Aces had -- they didn't score on either -- matched the fewest they have received in a game this season. They went 2 of 2 with the man advantage in a 4-1 home win over San Francisco on Oct. 26.


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


Aces 0 0 1 -- 1

Idaho 0 2 0 -- 2

First Period -- None. Penalties -- Foster, Idaho (holding), 11:52.

Second Period -- 1, Idaho, Cepis 4 (Mouillierat, Dowling), 2:29; 2, Smith 4 (Foster, Carroll), 8:50. Penalties -- Crabb, Aces (roughing), 3:22; Carroll, Idaho (roughing), 12:42; Mazzolini, Aces (boarding), 13:57; Mazzolini, Aces (hooking), 16:56.

Third Period -- 3, Aces, Mazzolini 9 (Curry), 9:15. Penalties -- Nunn, Aces (tripping), 13:24.

Shots on goal -- Aces 6-9-16--31. Idaho 13-11-4--28.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 2. Idaho 0 of 4.

Goalies -- Aces, Guggenberger, 10-4-0 (28 shots-26 saves). Idaho, Robinson, 6-0-1 (31-30).

A -- 4,299 (5,006). T -- 2:19.

Referee -- Ryan Murphy. Linesmen -- Scott DeBaugh, Andrew Wetzel.



Woody on Hockey