Aces drop consecutive road games for the first time this season

Doyle Woody

Two of the ECHL's most explosive hockey teams dialed down the dynamics Friday night, when they engaged in a game that was particularly low-scoring by their standards.

That was fine with the home-standing Colorado Eagles -- they earned a 2-1 victory before the customary sellout crowd of 5,289 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

The result was decidedly less cool for the Alaska Aces, who lost consecutive road games for the first time this season and mustered 22 shots, more than 12 below their league-leading average of 34.6 per game entering the game.

That paltry output wasn't enough to keep Eagles goaltender Marc Cheverie (9-0-2) from remaining unbeaten in regulation, nor was it enough to properly support Aces goalie Olivier Roy (32 saves).

And it continued the club's tough start to an eight-game road trip -- the Aces have been saddled with back-to-back, one-goal losses after falling 4-3 to the Eagles on Wednesday.

Worse, the Aces surrendered Jonathan Parker's game-winning goal with less than five minutes remaining by conducting a shoddy line change. That allowed Parker to beat Roy from the inside of the left circle.

Alaska (11-5-0) entered the game second on the circuit in goals per game at 3.80. Colorado (11-3-2) came in ranked fifth at 3.33 goals per game. That combined average of seven-plus goals per game was reflected in Wednesday's game between the teams.

Friday, though, marked the second time this season the Aces have been held to one goal, and the first time since a 2-1 loss to San Francisco on opening night.

Granted, the Aces were without four regulars. Defensemen Kane Lafranchise and James Martin, and wingers Peter Sivak, Alaska's leading scorer, and David Eddy played Friday for Abbotsford of the American Hockey League in a 3-2 loss to Utica.

But that's life in the 22-team ECHL, a developmental league in which shuffled rosters are common.

Aces captain Nick Mazzolini opened the scoring with 2.2 seconds left in the first period when he jammed home his fifth goal of the season.

That 1-0 lead held until late in the second period when Colorado's Kyle Ostrow delivered a goal for the fifth straight game. Ostrow beat Roy to the short side -- goalies almost always hate giving up goals there -- on a severely angled power-play shot from the bottom of the right circle.

Still, the Aces held the Eagles to that 1-1 deadlock for nearly an entire period even as they could not get any traction with their power-play units, which went 0 for 4 to snuff a streak in which the Aces had scored at least once with the man advantage in eight straight games.

Alaska next travels to Utah, where it on Wednesday opens a three-game series against the Grizzlies. After that, the Aces play three games at Idaho.

Shuffling the deck

Mazzolini's goal stopped a stretch in which his top line had not scored in three straight games. Evan Trupp's assist on the goal stopped his three-game point drought.

The goal scorers in the game also led the way in shots. Mazzolini led all players with seven shots, Ostrow led Colorado with six and Parker fired five.

The only other Aces with multiple shots were Ross Ring-Jarvi (3) and Mathew Sisca (2).

Aces center Tim Coffman and winger Andy Taranto each returned to the lineup after missing three games with lower-body injuries.

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Aces 1 0 0 -- 1

Colorado 0 1 1 -- 2

First Period -- 1, Aces, Mazzolini 5 (Trupp, Parker), 19:57. Penalties -- None.

Second Period -- 2, Colorado, Ostrow 9 (Ulanski, Daavettila), 17:01 (pp). Penalties - Trupp, Aces (tripping), 16:03; Johnston, Colorado (slashing), 18:48.

Third Period -- 3, Colorado, Parker 2 (Johnston, Smeltzer), 15:28. Penalties -- Nemec, Colorado (tripping), :33; Fulghum, Colorado (boarding), 2:56; Kremyr, Aces (interference), 5:32; Nemec, Colorado (boarding), 12:29.

Shots on goal -- Aces 7-5-10--22. Colorado 10-14-10--34.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 4. Colorado 1 of 2.

Goalies -- Aces, Roy, 1-3-0 (34 shots-32 saves). Colorado, Cheverie, 9-0-2 (22-21).

A -- 5,289 (5,289). T -- 2:14.

Referee -- Pierre Lambert. Linesmen -- Jon Shaw, Chris Wilson.