Aces use unusual lineup to defeat Bakersfield 2-1

Doyle Woody

The customary lineup of skaters in an ECHL hockey game consists of 10 forwards and six defensemen -- in hockey parlance, that's known as "10 and 6.''

Injuries, illnesses, promotions to a higher league and various circumstances occasionally force a coach to dress a different complement of players - say, 11 and 5, perhaps 9 and 6.

Friday night, with centers Nate Thompson and Scott Gomez sidelined by food poisoning, according to the Alaska Aces, the team went with a most unusual lineup -- 8 and 8.

Unusual lineup, but not an unusual result -- the Aces' 2-1 win at Bakersfield marked their fourth straight win and 10th win in the last 11 games for the top team on the 23-club circuit.

The Aces (15-5-0), who never trailed, used first-period strikes from Joey Crabb and Bobby Hughes, and 20 saves from Gerald Coleman to win for the second time in three nights in California -- they won 6-2 at Stockton on Wednesday.

Alaska outshot Bakersfield 41-21, though that wasn't much of a shocker. The Aces entered the night leading the league in shots per game at 33.42 and the Condors entered surrendering the most shots per game in the league at 36.11.

Since his recent return from offseason hip surgery, Coleman is 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.

Crabb's goal, off a Nick Mazzolini feed less than six minutes into the game, staked the Aces to a 1-0 lead and stretched his point streak to four games. He owns 3-5--8 totals in that span.

Bakersfield (5-12-3) forged a 1-1 tie on Liam Huculak's goal less than four minutes later. Winger Evan Trupp of Anchorage assisted on the strike, which began an eventful night for Huculak in his return to Bakersfield after starting the season in Europe. He also racked 11 penalty minutes on a hooking penalty, a double minor for roughing and a fighting major for his third-period bout against Aces defenseman Dustin Molle.

Alaska's Bobby Hughes scored 95 seconds into the second period -- that gave him goals in consecutive games -- to restore the visitors' lead at Rabobank Arena to 2-1.

The Aces' excellent penalty-killing crew wiped out all six Condors power plays, including an extended two-man advantage early in the game and a short two-man advantage in the second period.

Shuffling the deck

The Aces improved to 8-4-0 on the road.

Bakersfield has lost four straight games and its winless streak reach six games (0-5-1).

Aces winger Garry Nunn's point streak was stopped at five games.

Alaska closes its six-game road trip with a game Saturday night at Ontario.

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Aces 1 1 0 -- 2

Bakersfield 1 0 0 -- 1

First Period -- 1, Aces, Crabb 9 (Mazzolini), 5:44; 2, Bakersfield, Huculak 1 (Curry, Stanfield), 9:22. Penalties -- Molle, Aces (hooking), 2:06; Curry, Aces (high-sticking), 2:44; Hughes, Aces (boarding), 11:41; Legace, Bakersfield (interference), 15:23.

Second Period -- 3, Aces, Hughes 2 (Imbeault), 1:35. Penalties -- Huculak, Bakersfield (hooking), 5:06; Smith, Aces (tripping), 12:41; Sinkewich, Aces (slashing), 14:32; Hendrixx, Bakersfield (hooking), 16:08; Huculak, Bakersfield, double minor (roughing), 18:15; Molle, Aces, double minor (roughing), 18:15; Crabb, Aces (interference), 19:06.

Third Period -- None. Penalties -- Hudson, Bakersfield (holding), 5:34; Huculak, Bakersfield, major (fighting), 7:59; Molle, Aces, major (fighting), 7:59; Hudson, Bakersfield (hooking), 11:13.

Shots on goal -- Aces 14-16-11--41. Bakersfield 10-7-4--21.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 5. Bakersfield 0 of 6.

Goalies -- Aces, Coleman, 3-0-0 (21 shots-20 saves). Bakersfield, Stewart, 2-6-2 (41-39).

A -- 4,092 (8,782). T -- 2:16.

Referee -- Chris Pitoscia. Linesmen -- Brett Martin, Zach Thornton.

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