Rule of thumb in hockey that you don't have to be Scotty Bowman to figure out: Great goaltending generally equals great results.
Case in point: The Alaska Aces.
In 19 games this ECHL season, the Aces (13-6-0) already have shut out opponents seven times. The ECHL record for shutouts in a season is 11 by the Wheeling Nailers in 2003-04. The Aces have 53 regular-season games remaining, beginning with Wednesday night's match at Idaho, to match or better that mark.
Just as impressively, four Aces goaltenders have contributed to all those bagels -- Olivier Roy, Joni Ortio and Laurent Brossoit have each furnished two shutouts, and Mark Guggenberger provided one.
Roy is the latest Alaska masked man turned stingy. He's coming off consecutive road shutouts against the Utah Grizzlies and has not surrendered a goal in 148 minutes, 6 seconds.
That's why Tuesday he was named the ECHL's Goaltender of the Week. Even in the game he lost last week -- 2-0 to Utah -- he stopped 32 of 34 shots, and in the week went 2-1-0 with a 0.65 goals-against average and .976 save percentage.
He's the second Aces goaltender this season to engineer a shutout streak of more than 100 minutes. Brossoit went 126:21 without giving up a goal. That accounted for every second he played with the Aces until an NHL trade between Aces affiliate Calgary and Edmonton shipped him out of town and brought Roy into the Aces fold.
The Aces have allowed opponents two goals or fewer in 15 of 19 games this season. Their team average of 1.58 goals per game allowed leads the 22-team circuit by nearly half a goal. Alaska's team save percentage of .932 ranks second to Wheeling's .935. And only one other ECHL team owns at least half as many shutouts as the Aces -- Utah has four.
It helps, of course, that the Aces permit an average of just 23.16 shots per game, the lowest in the league and nearly two shots better than the second-stingiest team in that category, the Florida Everblades, who give up 25.0 shots per game.
Alaska's goaltenders also have not faced an abundance of power plays. Opposing teams get an average of 3.47 power-play opportunities per game, the fifth-lowest mark in the league.
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Four Alaska Aces goaltenders have racked a combined seven shutouts in a mere 19 hockey games this season, putting the club on pace to break the ECHL record for most shutouts in a season — they have 53 games regular-season games remaining. The record of 11 shutouts in one season belongs to the Wheeling Nailers, who had four goaltenders contribute to that total in 2003-04.
The Aces are one of five teams that have generated 10 bagels in a season. They did it in 2008-09, when Jean-Philippe Lamoureux delivered eight shutouts — that ties South Carolina’s Ryan Zapolski (2012-13) for most shutouts in an ECHL season — and Chris Holt and Kevin Nastiuk each furnished one shutout.
Here are the top six marks in ECHL history for most shutouts in a season:
ShutoutsTeam (Season)with shutouts
11Wheeling Nailers (2003-04) 4
10South Carolina Stingrays (2012-13) 3
10Alaska Aces (2008-09) 3
10Wheeling Nailers (2004-05) 3
10Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (2003-04)3
10*Louisiana IceGators (2001-02) 2
*Under ECHL stat-keeping guidelines currently in place, Louisiana would be credited with 11 team shutouts. Under guidelines used at the time, a 1-0 shootout loss Louisiana suffered that season was considered an individual shutout for the goaltender but was not considered a team shutout.
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By DOYLE WOODY