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Aces trade for rights to high-scoring Connolly

Doyle Woody

At this rate, the Alaska Aces' offseason trade of their second-line center is turning into Six Degrees of Bobby Hughes.

The ECHL Aces a month ago announced the trade of Hughes to the Fort Wayne Komets for "future considerations.''

Those future considerations turned out to be the rights to center/wing Jean-Michel Rizk.

Turned out Aces head coach Rob Murray was unable to sign Rizk.

So it was Thursday that the Aces announced they had traded Rizk's rights to the Greenville Road Warriors for the rights to center Brendan Connolly.

If the Aces can sign Connolly -- and Murray said he is confident he can -- the Hughes deal could turn out to be a pivotal, albeit time-consuming, acquisition.

Connolly, who turns 28 next month and is entering his fifth pro season, last season with Greenville tied for 19th in the league in scoring with 24-36--60 totals and a plus-14 rating in 65 games. His 214 shots on goal -- his average of 3.29 per game included 14 games in which he fired five shots or more -- ranked 15th on the circuit.

In the last three seasons with Greenville, spanning 150 regular-season games, Connolly delivered 70-96--166 totals and a plus-69 rating. He also scored at least 22 goals in each of those campaigns. The former Ferris State skater has played 15 games in the American Hockey League.

"What we're getting in Brendan Connolly is a guy who has been a dynamic player at the ECHL level,'' Murray said.

Connolly isn't big -- 5-foot-9, 175 pounds -- but his 113 penalty minutes last season were the most among the league's top 20 scorers.

"He's a guy that gets involved and doesn't let guys take liberties on him,'' Murray said.

Murray said Connolly can play either center or wing, and spent last season primarily in the pivot.

He said his conversations with Connolly lead him to believe the center will sign with the Aces and that Connolly covets a championship.

"He believes he's improved year by year, gotten better all the time, and he's committed to winning,'' Murray said.

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