Wrenn makes ECHL all-star team for Aces

Doyle Woody

It's been a strong rookie season for Alaska Aces defenseman William Wrenn -- he's played in every hockey game and in every situation for his hometown team, delivered offense and won his only pro fight by a one-punch TKO.

Thursday, his first campaign in the play-for-pay game got even better -- the ECHL announced Wrenn was selected to play in the circuit's All-Star Game later this month in Colorado.

Wrenn, the youngest Ace at 21, was among 21 players voted to the team by league coaches, general managers, captains and media. The All-Stars play the Colorado Eagles on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

"I knew it was a possibility, but I was kind of surprised,'' Wrenn said. "It's definitely an honor to represent the team.''

Wrenn, a second-round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, split his previous three seasons between the University of Denver and the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks, who he captained to Game 7 of last season's Finals.

He has handled the transition to the pro game, where players are bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled, very well. In 34 games for the Aces, Wrenn has delivered five goals and 11 assists, and a minus-1 rating. Three of his goals have come on the power play and he also kills penalties.

"Even though he has high draft status, three years of junior and college, he's still a rookie,'' said Aces coach Rob Murray. "We put a lot of demands on him, and he's met them.''

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Wrenn said although he's still getting acclimated to the pro game -- "You play against men every night, not kids,'' he said -- he feels like he is improving.

"I'm slowly working my way to where, if there's a tight spot in a game, I can be reliable every night,'' Wrenn said. "They've given me plenty of chances, plenty of opportunities. It's nice they have that confidence in me.''

Louis Mass, who coaches the Aces' blueliners, said Wrenn is making progress steadily and shows a determination to keep developing.

"His reads and decision-making are good, just need to be faster,'' Mass said. "He has a desire to get better, that's the big thing.''

The ECHL in recent years has trended toward comprising its All-Star teams of young players who are still developing and prove themselves capable of making the jump up hockey's ladder to the American Hockey League, one step below the NHL. Wrenn fits that bill.

"They lean toward prospects who, hopefully, are going to launch their careers from this level, and they look to showcase those players,'' Murray said.

Shuffling the deck

Alaska's eight-game winning streak is currently the longest in the league.

The Aces' three-game California road trip this weekend -- Alaska plays at Ontario on Saturday and Sunday -- will be squeezed into less than 72 hours.

After playing at Stockton in a 6:30 p.m. AST start Friday, the Aces will immediately make the roughly six-hour bus trip to Ontario, then play at 6 p.m. AST Saturday. Then they have a 2 p.m. AST matinee against the Reign on Sunday.

With 18 home games played, the Aces are halfway through their home schedule. Their attendance at Sullivan Arena has increased nearly nine percent compared to last season. Alaska this season is averaging 4,839 fans per game -- that's announced attendance -- after averaging 4,450 per game last season.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.