The Alaska Aces’ latest tilted-ice exploitation, Saturday night’s 5-0 romp over the Bakersfield Condors, brought into focus ridiculous numbers from a hockey team that has won six straight games.
Coupled with Friday’s 6-3 win over Bakersfield, in which the Aces scored the game’s last five goals at Sullivan Arena, the Aces have scored 10 consecutive goals.
But consider: That marked the second time the Aces (6-1-0) have scored 10 consecutive goals in an ECHL series already this season. More precisely, it’s the second time they have done it in a span of four games — they also dropped 10 straight on Las Vegas in consecutive games a week ago.
Saturday’s victory came courtesy of a four-goal outburst in a span of 3 minutes, 31 seconds of the second period, when rookie defenseman Brad Richard scored the first two goals of his career and added an assist for his first three pro points. Winger Tommy Mele added the other two goals in that barrage.
But consider: Friday night, the Aces scored three second-period goals in just 5:10, and last week in Las Vegas they ambushed the Wranglers for three goals in a stretch of just 6:06.
Add all that together and the Aces have scored 10 goals in a collective span of just 14 minutes, 47 seconds. Not to put too fine a point on it, but their opponents have scored a combined nine goals in a total of 420 minutes.
Mele said he was recently talking with teammates James Martin and David Eddy, who last season faced Alaska when they played for the Utah Grizzlies. Mele asked his teammates what made the Aces, who have won three straight Brabham Cups as regular-season champs, so effective and said it came down to three things: Commitment to coach Rob Murray’s systems, stellar goaltending and stars who work as hard as grinders.
“When you have all that in the mix, good things happen,’’ Mele said.
Nor does depth of talent hurt.
Take Richard, for instance. The Aces started the season with nine defensemen, and you could make the argument that Richard, a rookie from Division III Hobart College, ranked ninth on the depth chart.
But with Sean Curry (lower-body injury), rookie Zach Davies (broken wrist) and Corey Syvret (upper-body injury) out, Richard on Saturday played just his second pro game.
He scored Alaska’s first goal, off Evan Trupp’s feed. He racked an assist on Mele’s first goal. And he scored his second goal on a rebound of captain Nick Mazzolini’s shot. Those three goals came in a span of 2:16 — and Richard doesn’t recall coming off the ice in that stretch, so: Three-point shift.
“I don’t know what happened,’’ Richard said with a laugh. “I think I blacked out.’’
Still, Murray said Richard’s offensive numbers in college — 64 points in 97 games — marked him as a prospect, and he liked Richard’s work in an exhibition game. Murray said Richard’s pro debut wasn’t sharp — the kid was nervous, the coach said — but his game was on point Saturday.
Goaltending continues to be strong for the Aces too. Rookie Laurent Brossoit made his first start for the club and stopped 16 shots for his first pro win and first pro shutout. Combined with his six minutes of substitute duty for Mark Guggenberger in Friday’s 6-3 win, when Guggenberger’s skate problem forced him to the bench, Brossoit has stopped all 24 ECHL shots he faced.
Saturday’s performance, which he conceded was not heavy lifting on a night the Aces outshot the Condors, 32-16, was a nice bounce-back after giving up nine goals in his only start for Abbotsford of the American Hockey League.
“I used to take each loss personally, and take too long to get over it,’’ Brossoit said. “I’ve learned if you stay even-keeled and learn from it, you’ll be OK.’’
Combined with Joni Ortio’s two bagels — he’s up with Abbotsford — Aces goalies have produced three shutouts in seven games.
The Aces held Bakersfield to eight shots in the last 40 minutes Saturday. They kept the Condors the only winless team (0-5-1) on the 22-team circuit and outshot Bakersfield 18-2 in the second period.
That marked the eighth time in 21 periods this season the Aces have outshot an opponent by more than 10 shots in a period. Also, they have limited opponents to 19 or fewer shots in six of seven games — Bakersfield’s 35 shots Friday proved the only exception.
In all, the Aces have outscored opponents 30-9.
And with Richard and Mele notching two-goal nights, six different Aces already have scored two or more goals in a game.
Yet it’s just seven games in a 72-game season. There will be bumps in the road — history says so. So the club’s Cowbell Crew can hold off on musing about parade routes.
Of course, at 6-1-0, the Aces, who have won two Kelly Cups in 10 previous seasons, and own the best winning percentage in ECHL history, are off to their best seven-game start in club history.
Shuffling the deck
Brendan Connolly’s third-period goal, off assists from Tim Coffman and Andy Taranto, stretched his point streak to five games. He owns 2-5—7 totals in that span.
Coffman likewise extended his point streak to five games and has 3-6—9 totals in that stretch.
Peter Sivak’s two assists, following his three-goal, five-point night Friday, gives him 4-6—10 totals in a four-game point streak.
Trupp’s assist gives him six helpers in a four-game point streak.
Goalie Paul Karpowich has to shoulder the load for Bakersfield for the entire three-game series, which wraps with Sunday’s matinee. He’s the only Condors goalie on the trip because Tyler Bunz was summoned to AHL Oklahoma City.
Micah Perletti of Anchorage, who has helped the Aces in training camp the last two years, is serving as Bakersfield’s emergency back-up goaltender (E-bug). But under ECHL rules, he can only play in the event Karpowich gets too injured to play.
All 16 Aces skaters in the lineup Saturday earned a plus-minus rating of plus-1 or better. Richard led the way at plus-3.
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Bakersfield0 0 0 — 0
Aces0 4 1 — 5
First Period — None. Penalties — None.
Second Period — 1, Aces, Richard 1 (Trupp, Sivak), 1:57; 2, Aces, Mele 2 (Martin, Richard), 3:34; 3, Aces, Richard 2 (Mazzolini, Sivak), 4:13; 4, Aces, Mele 3, 5:28. Penalties — Cunningham, Bakersfield (slashing), 6:13; Gerant, Bakersfield (roughing), 10:02.
Third Period — 5, Aces, Connolly 2 (Coffman, Taranto), 2:27. Penalties — Kremyr, Aces (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:01; Gernat, Bakersfield (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:01; Oakley, Bakersfield (holding), 12:17; Collins, Bakersfield (cross-checking), 20:00.
Shots on goal — Bakersfield 8-2-6—16. Aces 7-18-7—32.
Power-play Opportunities — Bakersfield 0 of 0. Aces 0 of 3.
Goalies — Bakersfield, Karpowich, 0-4-0 (32 shots-27 saves). Aces, Brossoit, 1-0-0 (16-16).
A — 4,814 (6,399). T — 2:08.
Referee — Chris Pitoscia. Linesmen — Scott Sivulich, Steve Glines.
By DOYLE WOODY