Aces streak ends in nine-round shootout

Doyle Woody

The Alaska Aces' season-high nine-game winning streak is history.

Now they own a 10-game streak in which they are unbeaten in regulation.

The ECHL leaders fell 2-1 in a nine-round shootout to the Ontario Reign on Saturday night, when they twice staved off shootout defeat before losing the skills contest 5-4 before a sellout crowd of 9,616 at Citizens Business Bank Arena in California.

The shootout loss marked Alaska's first post-regulation defeat this season. Prior to Saturday, they were 3-0 in overtime and 2-0 in shootouts.

Still, the 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) ties the team's sixth-longest unbeaten streak in 10 ECHL seasons. And the point the Aces (27-8-1) earned in the standings keeps them atop the 23-team circuit entering Sunday's matinee rematch, which closes a three-game, California road trip that began with a 3-1 win at Stockton on Friday.

With the shootout tied 2-2 after the scheduled five rounds, NHLer Kyle Clifford scored in the sixth round for Ontario (24-8-2), which shot first in each round. But Aces winger Matt Robinson scored to extend the shootout.

In the eighth round, Vincent Loverde scored for the Reign to put the Aces on the brink of a loss. But Zach Harrison answered for Alaska, sending the session to a ninth round, which featured a goal from Ontario's Brodie Sheahan and no goal from Aces winger Chris Clackson, whose fingerprints were all over this hockey game.

The Aces and Ontario, the top two teams in the Western Conference, have played twice this season, both times in Ontario, and neither game was decided in regulation. Alaska won 4-3 in overtime on Kane Lafranchise's strike on Dec. 1.

The teams will become ridiculously familiar with each other in the coming days. After Sunday's game, they turn around and play three games in Anchorage beginning Wednesday.

The Aces killed off the Reign's 5-on-3 power play for the final 79 seconds of regulation to force extra time. They also killed a penalty in the final 12 seconds of the five-minute overtime.

Clackson furnished a 1-0 lead late in the first period when he scored his third goal in the last five games. He also racked up 13 penalty minutes on two boarding minors, two roughing minors and a fight with Chris Cloud.

Ontario notched a 1-1 tie six minutes into the second period when Colton Yellow Horn bagged his league-leading 24th goal, and his fifth in the last three games, on the power play.

When Clackson and Cloud fought later in the period, Cloud received a major penalty and game misconduct for head-butting. But the Aces were unable to score on their subseqent five-minute power play.


Shuffling the deck

Alexander Imbeault's seven-game point streak was snapped, as was Bobby Hughes' five-game streak.

Center Scott Gomez, who scored the game winner in Stockton, did not play, which left the Aces with 15 skaters, one below the maximum.

The Aces' nine-game winning streak tied for the second-longest in their ECHL history. The club record of 11 straight wins belongs to the 2005-06 team, which won the Kelly Cup.

The game featured two of the most lethal lines in the league. Ontario's line of Yellow Horn (24 goals), C.J. Stretch (18) and Kyle Kraemer (9) have accounted for 51 goals. The Aces line of Nick Mazzolini (20), Joey Crabb (17) and Garry Nunn (11) has accounted for 48 goals.


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Ontario wins shootout 5-4

Aces 1 0 0 0 -- 1

Ontario 0 1 0 1 -- 2

First Period -- 1, Aces, Clackson 9 (Syvret), 18:56. Penalties -- Stretch, Ontario (high-sticking), 2:23; Clackson, Aces (boarding), 11:38.

Second Period -- 2, Ontario, Yellow Horn 24 (Stretch, Kraemer), 6:08 (pp). Penalties -- Robinson, Aces (hooking), 5:55; Molle, Aces (tripping), 8:01; Cloud, Ontario (roughing), 10:45; Clackson, Aces, double-minor (boarding, roughing), 10:45; Cloud, Ontario, double major-game misconduct (fighting, head-butting), 14:59; Clackson, Aces, major (fighting), 14:59.

Third Period -- None. Penalties -- Huxley, Ontario (slashing), 4:42; Clackson, Aces (roughing), 4:42; Kraemer, Ontario (tripping), 12:45; Haltigin, Aces (tripping), 18:41; Hughes, Aces (slashing), 18:41; Hughes, Aces, misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:50.

Overtime -- None. Penalties -- Syvret, Aces (slashing), 4:48.

Shootout -- Ontario 5 (Stretch NG, Lamoureux G, Kraemer NG, Yellow Horn G, Huxley NG, Clifford G, Burt NG, LoVerde G, Br. Sheahan G); Aces 4 (Imbeault NG, Crabb G, Dubinsky NG, Mazzolini G, Hughes NG, Robinson G, Nunn NG, Harrison G, Clackson NG).

Shots on goal -- Aces 8-4-6-0--18. Ontario 7-6-8-2--23.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 3. Ontario 1 of 7.

Goalies -- Aces, Guggenberger, 14-5-1 (23 shots-22 saves). Ontario, Berube, 11-3-2 (18-17).

A -- 9,616 (9,616). T -- 2:37.

Referee -- Don Jablonski. Linesmen -- Brett Martin, Zach Thornton.




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