Steelheads thump Aces 4-1

Doyle Woody

Less than one period into Wednesday night's hockey game, the eventual outcome seemed clear.

Fork, meet the Alaska Aces -- and stick it to them.

The Idaho Steelheads pumped the visitors for four first-period goals at CenturyLink Arena and earned a 4-1 victory while the Aces continued to struggle mightily to score goals.

Alaska's Olivier Roy (26 saves), the reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Week, proved shaky early and the team in front of him evidently failed to awake from their pre-game naps, all of which helped the fast-starting Steelheads pocket prosperity.

Idaho (12-6-2) racked four goals in the opening 18 minutes, 18 seconds. Rob Linsmayer scored off a helper from former Seawolves winger Tommy Grant, Gaelen Patterson struck on the power play, David de Kastrozza authored the first short-handed strike against the Aces (13-7-0) this season and Etienne Boutet piled on.

All that came against an Aces team that had allowed as many as four goals in an entire game three times in its previous 19 games, and it made for Alaska's most lopsided loss this season.

The Aces' power play could not pull them from the abyss. Alaska went scoreless on six opportunities and has failed to score on 26 consecutive power plays in the last five-plus games.

Even when the Aces did gain glorious chances, Idaho's Josh Robinson (26 saves) denied them. And when Robinson was down and out, teammates Boutet and Tyler Elbrecht had his back -- each defenseman journeyed into the crease to deny what seemed certain goals. Even the iron conspired against the Aces -- both Peter Sivak and Nick Mazzolini rang shots off the pipes.

Jordan Kremyr's goal inside the last two minutes, off a Sivak helper, kept the Aces from getting bageled for the third time in four games.

Of course, that's somewhat par for the course lately, even for an Alaska team that entered with two straight road wins at Utah. The Aces have scored three actual goals in the last three games -- that's not counting the "team'' goal in their 1-0 shootout win at Utah or an empty-net goal in a 3-0 win at Utah.

The power play is particularly troublesome. Though it enjoyed some very good chances Wednesday, very good wasn't nearly good enough.

Alaska's power play is being hampered by the absence of several principal defensemen -- Corey Syvret, Zach Davies and Sean Curry are out with injuries and Kane Lafranchise is up with Abbotsford of the American Hockey League. Those absences have also made the Aces young and inexperienced, and periodically vulnerable, on the back end in all situations.

Plus, Aces aplenty are enduring scoring droughts. Tommy Mele has not scored a goal in 13 games. Evan Trupp is without one in eight games, and Sivak, the team's leading scorer, and Tim Coffman have each gone seven games without a goal.

The Aces face the Steelheads again Friday and Saturday to wrap an eight-game road trip on which they've gone 2-4-0 so far.

Shuffling the deck

Idaho rookie winger William Rapuzzi of Anchorage missed his third straight game with an injury.

Sivak and Mathew Sisca led the Aces with four shots on goal each.

Lafranchise racked two assists for Abbotsford on Wednesday night, when the Heat beat visiting Iowa 6-2. That gives him three helpers in five games since he was promoted.

Also, erstwhile Aces winger Brendan Connolly, called up to Abbotsford last week, furnished an assist in his second game with the club.

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Aces 0 0 1 -- 1

Idaho 4 0 0 -- 4

First Period -- 1, Idaho, Linsmayer 3 (Grant, Patterson), 4:07; 2, Idaho, Patterson 2 (Kipp), 6:03 (pp); 3, Idaho, de Kastrozza 1, 10:45 (sh); 4, Idaho, Boutet 1 (Nigro), 18:18. Penalties -- Molle, Aces (tripping), 5:56; Cullity, Idaho (closing hand on puck), 8:55; Trupp, Aces, double-minor (high-sticking), 12:16; Kipp, Idaho (hooking) 14:28; Boutet, Idaho (cross-checking), 15:44.

Second Period -- None. Penalties -- Elbrecht, Idaho (interference), 9:30.

Third Period -- 5, Aces, Kremyr 6 (Sivak), 18:07. Penalties -- Montgomery, Idaho, minor-major (boarding, fighting), 1:14; Molle, Aces, major (fighting), 1:14; Reum, Idaho (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:09; Martin, Aces (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:09; Zuck, Aces (tripping), 7:09; Cullity, Idaho (tripping), 9:34.

Shots on goal -- Aces 12-6-9--27. Idaho 12-10-8--30.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 6. Idaho 1 of 4.

Goalies -- Aces, Roy, 3-5-0 (30 shots-26 saves). Idaho, Robinson, 7-1-1 (27-26).

A -- 2,892 (5,006). T -- 2:14.

Referee -- Peter Tarnaris. Linesmen -- Scott DeBaugh, Andrew Wetzel.