Kane Lafranchise keeps living up to the name readers of The Hockey News last season voted the best in the sport.
The Alaska Aces defenseman delivered his second game-winning overtime goal in two weeks on Saturday night when he scored 62 seconds into extra time to secure a 4-3 ECHL road win over the Ontario Reign in California.
Lafranchise, who on Nov. 16 scored in OT to give the Aces a 5-4 home-ice win over Colorado, this time helped extend Alaska's winning streak to five games. With the teams skating 4 on 4, as mandated in overtime in the ECHL, Lafranchise scored off assists from winger Garry Nunn and center Nate Thompson.
And just like in the game against Colorado, the Aces never led until Lafranchise struck. Saturday, his third goal of the season furnished the Aces (16-5-0) their 11th win in the last 12 games.
Alaska is 3-0-0 in overtime this season. Center Zach Harrison, who scored Saturday night, owns the other OT winner.
Lafranchise, a third-year pro who played his college hockey at UAA, leads Aces blueliners in scoring with 3-11--14 totals in 17 games -- his three goals match his total in 69 games a season ago -- and ranks second in plus-minus at plus-7.
In the first match of the season between teams that entered with the top winning percentages in the Western Conference -- Alaska entered No. 1, Ontario No. 2 -- the Aces bounced back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2.
The game was replete with NHLers playing in the ECHL because of the lockout. Thompson (one goal, one helper) and winger Joey Crabb played for the Aces, while Scott Gomez remained out with food poisoning. The Reign (14-6-0), who like the Aces came into the game with 10 wins in their previous 11 games, featured NHLers Kyle Clifford (one goal), Devin Setoguchi (one assist) and long-time NHL defenseman Paul Mara.
After a scoreless first period, Ontario generated a 2-0 lead in the opening 61 seconds of the second period when Derek Couture and Clifford scored 37 seconds apart.
Alaska battled back with second-period strikes from Thompson and Harrison, but Ontario regained the lead at 3-2 on Kyle Kraemer's goal with just 55 seconds left in the period.
Aces winger Tommy Mele forged a 3-3 tie midway through the third period when he banged home a Jarred Smith rebound.
Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman stopped 22 shots to improve to 4-0-0.
Shuffling the deck
The back-to-back goals the Aces surrendered in a heartbeat were not the two fastest by an opponent this season, but they marked the fourth time in 21 games the Aces have given up two goals in less than 40 seconds. Oddly, the Aces have won all four of those games.
The two fastest goals scored against the Aces this season came 29 seconds apart by the Utah Grizzlies.
Thompson, who sat out Friday's 2-1 win in Bakersfield with food poisoning, has at least a point in each of his last four games and 3-4--7 totals in that span. Harrison's goal was his third in the last five games.
Alexandre Imbeault's assist on Thompson's goal extended his point streak to four games -- he's 1-5--6 in that stretch.
Alaska improved to 9-4-0 on the road and is scheduled to travel home Sunday and open a four-game homestand against the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Alaska's league-leading penalty-killing crew stopped all three Reign power plays and has snuffed 90.2 percent of opposing power plays this season.
Mario Lamoureux, the younger brother of former Aces goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux and former Aces winger Jacques Lamoureux, contributed an assist for the Reign.
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Aces 0 2 1 1 -- 4
Ontario 0 3 0 0 -- 3
First Period -- None. Penalties -- Sinkewich, Aces (boarding), 6:13; Sinkewich, Aces (holding the stick), 17:52.
Second Period -- 1, Ontario, Couture 7 (Setoguchi), :24; 2, Ontario, Clifford 3 (Kraemer, Lamoureux), 1:01; 3, Aces, Thompson 7 (Imbeault, Goulet), 10:23; 4, Aces, Harrison 5, 13:34; 5, Ontario, Kraemer 5 (Clune, Yellow Horn), 19:05. Penalties -- Calla, Ontario (tripping), 3:05; Lamoureux, Ontario (holding), 7:16; Clifford, Ontario (interference), 15:09.
Third Period -- 6, Aces, Mele 7 (Smith), 11:12. Penalties -- Aces bench minor, served by Nunn (too many men), 4:34.
Overtime -- 7, Aces, Lafranchise 3 (Nunn, Thompson), 1:02. Penalties -- None.
Shots on goal -- Aces 7-7-9-1--24. Ontario 5-10-10-0--25.
Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 3. Ontario 0 of 3.
Goalies -- Aces, Coleman, 4-0-0 (25 shots-22 saves). Ontario, Berube, 6-2-1 (24-20).
A -- 7,966 (9,616). T -- 2:23.
Referee -- Chris Pistoscia. Linesmen -- Brett Martin, Zach Thornton.
Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY