Reinforcements lead charge for Aces in 5-2 win

Doyle Woody

Three more Alaska Aces sported dress clothes for Saturday night’s game against the Las Vegas Wranglers — injuries suffered the previous evening turned them into spectators.

So the ECHL hockey club plugged into the lineup three guys who had been on the outside looking in, and they delivered the goods in a redemptive 5-2 win before an announced, sellout crowd of 6,413 at Sullivan Arena.

Out of the lineup came second-line center Tim Coffman (lower-body injury), second-line right wing Andy Taranto (lower-body injury) and defenseman Corey Syvret (upper-body injury).

Into the lineup went winger David Eddy (one goal, one assist) on the third line, winger Shawn Skelly (one goal, one assist) on the second line and defenseman Brad Richard (two assists). Also, newcomer Mathew Sisca (one assist) played his second game with Alaska but his first at center on the second line.

Their contributions helped the Aces (10-3-0) rebound from a 4-3 loss to the Wranglers (4-8-0) on Friday that marked the first time the Aces have lost consecutive games this season.

Eddy, who missed the previous eight games with a lower-body injury, stepped into the fold and in his home debut for the team furnished a Gordie Howe Hat Trick — goal (and a spectacular one at that), assist, fight.

“This lineup is unreal,’’ Eddy said. “You take a guy out and put another guy in, and he’s not going to be a dud. He’ll do something — score, hit, play defense, something.’’

Eddy, who played two games for the Aces during their three-game sweep in Las Vegas before he was injured, was ecstatic to be back in the game.

“I don’t know if I can put into words how great it is to play again,’’ he said. “The last two years have been a grind, not playing a lot (because of injuries), so any game you get in, you give your all.’’

Eddy scored Alaska’s second goal, a first-period strike that restored the lead at 2-1 and kick-started a three-goal spree that covered just 5 minutes, 16 seconds, and ballooned the lead to 4-1.

He rushed into the Wranglers zone on left wing by dangling around a defender, danced around sliding Las Vegas defenseman Nolan Juseth-White, cut into the high slot and roofed a wrister on Travis Fullerton (30 saves).

“That’s the coolest goal I’ve scored in a long time, even in practice,’’ Eddy said.

Skelly opened the scoring on his first shift, less than two minutes into the game, when he backhanded Richard’s pass over Fullerton’s blocker for his second goal in just four games this season.

“Personally, I’m pretty hard on myself and I expect to play well when I get a chance,’’ Skelly said. “It’s been tough, with a game here, or two there. I knew tonight I was going to be on the second line and get a regular shift, and I really wanted to have a good game.’’

Shortly after Eddy’s goal, Sisca set up Brendan Connolly’s power-play rocket, with the other assist going to Skelly. Ross Ring-Jarvi followed with his first goal as an Ace, getting a piece of Eddy’s shot.

Those three goals marked the seventh time in 13 games the Aces have scored three or more goals in a stretch of less than seven minutes. Their four-goal period also marked the eighth time they have scored three or more goals in a period.

Defenseman B.J. Crum pumped the Aces’ lead to 5-1 with his second-period, power-play strike off Connolly’s feed. Crum is known as a stay-at-home defenseman, but at this rate – two man-advantage strikes already this season – he may be in danger of being labeled a power-play specialist.

In any event, his goal helped offset a power-play goal by Las Vegas’ Chris Francis later in the period.

The Aces, who are 4-1 against the Wranglers this season and have outscored them 21-10, close the three-game set with a Sunday matinee.


Shuffling the deck

First-line center Nick Mazzolini and first-line right wing Peter Sivak both lost their nine-game point streaks.

Sivak fell out of the league scoring lead. He has 23 points in 13 games, one fewer than Florida’s Matthew Pistilli (24 points in 14 games).

The Aces killed a two-man Wranglers advantage that covered 70 seconds in the second period. That 5-on-3 turned into somewhat of a 5-on-2 when Crum lost his stick behind the net. Mazzolini gave Crum his stickand later in the shift retrieved Crum’s stick and used it.

Eventful night for Wranglers winger Adam Huxley, who began his pro career with a short Aces stint in 2003-04. He scored his first goal of the season and fought Eddy and defenseman Dustin Molle on the way to 14 penalty minutes.

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Las Vegas1  1  0 — 2

Aces4  1  0 — 5

First Period — 1, Aces, Skelly 2 (Richard), 1:51; 2, Las Vegas, Huxley 1 (May), 4:42; 3, Aces, Eddy 1, 13:06; 4, Aces, Connolly 5 (Sisca, Skelly), 15:37 (pp); 5, Aces, Ring-Jarvi 1 (Eddy, Kremyr), 18:22. Penalties — Mele, Aces (roughing), 2:27; Coburn, Las Vegas (roughing), 2:27; Molle, Aces (slashing), 6:59; Huxley, Las Vegas (cross-checking), 6:59; Francis, Las Vegas (tripping), 10:20; DelGrosso, Las Vegas (clipping), 14:42; Molle, Aces, major (fighting), 17:22; Huxley, Las Vegas, major (fighting), 17:22; Skelly, Aces (hooking), 18:36.

Second Period — 6, Aces, Crum 2 (Connolly, Richard), 9:09 (pp); 7, Las Vegas, Francis 4 (Irwin, Cook), 15:40 (pp). Penalties — Connolly, Aces (roughing), 2:15; DelGrosso, Las Vegas (roughing), 2:15; Connolly, Aces (roughing), 4:52; Tassone, Las Vegas, double-minor, served by Huxley (roughing), 4:52; Finucci, Las Vegas (tripping), 7:30; Eddy, Aces, major (fighting), 9:55; Huxley, Las Vegas, major (fighting), 9:55; Lafranchise, Aces (holding), 12:47; Mele, Aces (goaltender interference), 15:14; Tassone, Las Vegas (hooking), 17:23.

Third Period — None. Penalties — Lafranchise, Aces (holding), 10:08; Martin, Aces (slashing), 10:58; Huxley, Las Vegas (tripping), 14:35; Trupp, Aces (hooking), 15:45.

Shots on goal — Las Vegas 6-8-7—21. Aces 14-14-7—35.

Power-play Opportunities — Las Vegas 1 of 6. Aces 2 of 6.

Goalies — Las Vegas, Fullerton, 3-4-0 (35 shots-30 saves). Aces, Guggenberger, 5-1-0 (21-19).

A — 6,413 (6,399). T — 2:38.

Referee — Brett Sheva. Linesmen — Scott Sivulich, Travis Jackson.