Aces drop Cyclones 6-4 in exhibition

Doyle Woody

In returner Gerald Coleman, the Alaska Aces have the 2011 ECHL Goaltender of the Year who backstopped them to the Kelly Cup that season.

In returner Mark Guggenberger, they have the masked man who last season was second-team All-ECHL and Wednesday night picked up the win in a 6-4 exhibition victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones at Sullivan Arena.

And in newcomer Laurent Brossoit, they have a rookie who two seasons ago spearheaded the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Western Hockey League championship, was named the playoffs' Most Valuable Player in the process and is currently under contract to the NHL's Calgary Flames.

So, no posers in that crew.

But hockey teams do not use three-goalie rotations. Typically they rotate two guys, one who owns the mantle of the No. 1 goalie -- The Man -- and another who serves as backup.

"It's a good problem to have,'' said Guggenberger, who stopped 21 shots Wednesday. "Any time you have an abundance of (strong) goaltending, it's what every hockey team wants.''

Aces coach Rob Murray previously has said these things have a way of working themselves out, usually when a goaltender in the organizational depth chart -- Alaska is affiliated with Calgary and Abbotsford of the American Hockey League -- is shelved by injury.

Calgary has five goalies in its system -- two for the Flames, two for Abbotsford and one for Alaska.

"Look at the NHL -- two or three goalies are already hurt,'' Coleman pointed out. "All it takes is one guy with Calgary going down.''

At the moment, Coleman is still recovering from offseason hip surgery and he'll begin the season on injured reserve. But he is expected to be cleared for duty early in the season, which begins next week, and that will leave the Aces, barring injury to another netminder, with three goalies.

Save any injury in Calgary, Abbotsford or Anchorage, one thing is clear -- the Flames have an investment in Brossoit, who played in Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Cyclones, and believe he's a part of their future. Ergo, when he's here, he's here to play.

"Everybody wants to be in net,'' Coleman said. "The resume I have, I'm going to get an opportunity. I know that.

"Bross is never going to be the odd-man out -- that's me or Guggs. I control what happens if I play well. If I don't, it's on me.''

The Aces nearly ran into the problem of too many goaltenders last season, when Coleman missed season's start after his first round of offseason hip surgery. By the time Coleman returned to the lineup around Thanksgiving, when Guggenberger was holding down the fort because James Reid was enduring a high ankle sprain, his return proved timely. And it gave the Aces two stalwarts in net.

When Reid was healthy, someone had to go. That was Reid, who was traded to ECHL Orlando in exchange for winger Spencer Bennett, who is still with the Aces.

Murray has said he'll concern himself with a similar situation only when it develops -- no sense worrying about what ifs and maybes.

Guggenberger, who was in training camp with AHL Iowa, the Minnesota Wild's affiliate, made some sharp stops Wednesday. He also gave up a groaner early in the second period on a puck deflected airborne from center ice that bounced in on him and slithered through his five-hole.

"If football they tell you to run away when the ball is bouncing -- I've got to be more focused in that situation,'' Guggenberger said. "I wasn't laughing.

"But I knew what the game was -- we were still up two goals. Fortunately, it wasn't the game winner and the boys filled up the net for me.''

Guggenberger also caught a tough break in the third period when the puck ricocheted off the skate of defenseman Sean Curry and past him.

But with Guggenberger's strong work in tandem with Coleman last season, when the Aces seized an unprecedented third straight Brabham Cup as the league's regular-season champions, Murray knows what he has in the third-year pro.

Besides, as Coleman pointed out, exhibition hockey tends to be sloppy in front of goaltenders, so it is difficult to judge their work.

"This is like glorified shinny at times,'' Coleman said.

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Cincinnati 0 2 2 -- 4

Aces 3 1 2 -- 6

First Period -- 1, Aces, Ring-Jarvi (Syvret, Richard), 12:27; 2, Aces, Trupp (Connolly, Sivak), 13:13; 3, Aces, Farmer (Taranto), 14:03. Penalties -- Saponari, Cincinnati (high-sticking), 1:33; Mele, Aces (goaltender interference), 15:36; Mele, Aces, major (fighting), 17:44; Geoffrion, Cincinnati, major (fighting), 17:44; Connolly, Aces (boarding), 18:05; Crum, Aces (interference), 18:09; Almeida, Cincinnati (unsportsmanlike conduct), 19:46.

Second Period -- 4, Cincinnati, Eves (Wysopal, Daniels), 2:42; 5, Cincinnati, Almeida (Burkholz, Luciani), 4:41; 6, Aces, Syvret (Mele, Zuck), 11:26. Penalties -- Kremyr, Aces (slashing), 5:55; Martin, Aces, major (fighting), 18:55; Luciani, Cincinnati, major (fighting), 18:55.

Third Period -- 7, Aces, Taranto (Coffman), 2:17; 8, Aces, Bennett (Kremyr), 3:15; 9, Cincinnati, Almeida (Embach, Reed), 13:24 (pp); 10, Cincinnati, McFadden (Reed, Aubin), 14:13 (pp). Penalties -- Crum, Aces (roughing), 5:01; Megan, Cincinnati, double-minor (roughing), 5:01; Trupp, Aces, double-minor (high-sticking, hooking), 12:08; Lefebvre, Cincinnati (roughing), 17:19.

Shots on goal -- Cincinnati 8-9-8--25. Aces 12-7-7--26.

Power-play Opportunities -- Cincinnati 2 of 6. Aces 0 of 4.

Goalies -- Cincinnati, Madore (26 shots-20 saves). Aces, Guggenberger (25-21).

A -- 3,598 (6,399). T -- 2:24.

Referee -- Andrew Wilk. Linesmen -- Steve Glines, Travis Jackson.