In November, Mathew Sisca was just there for the taking after the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears waived him.
So, the Alaska Aces picked up the crafty forward as a free agent, and since then he's given them a tremendous offensive boost.
Saturday night in San Francisco, Sisca bagged two goals to help spearhead a series-wrapping 5-2 win over the Bulls at the Cow Palace in California.
With the victory, the Aces (21-9-3) redeemed themselves from Friday's come-from-ahead, 6-5 overtime loss and earned five of a six possible points in the series.
They've now earned points in five straight games, going 3-0-2 in that stretch. Up next is a three-game homestand against Las Vegas, which owns the fewest points in the 22-team league and has lost all five meetings with the Aces this season.
Sisca has proved a catalyst for a team plagued by injuries. In 22 games for Alaska, he's delivered 10-11--21 totals. Saturday's two-goal game was his second for the Aces and also his sixth multiple-point effort since joining the hockey club.
Shawn Skelly and Sisca struck in the first period to stake Alaska to a 2-0 lead, and the Aces did not squander that strong start. Friday, they led 3-0 after one period before faltering to the rallying Bulls (13-20-5).
Brett Findlay cut Alaska's lead to 2-1 in the second period, but Tim Coffman answered with the first of his two goals. He also furnished an assist.
Coffman, a center, started the season in robust fashion, then hit an 11-game goal skid. He went five games without a goal recently, and just one helper in that span, before scoring a goal Friday and adding three points Saturday.
Sisca's power-play goal in the opening minute of the third period earned the Aces a 4-1 cushion. And although San Francisco's Sebastian Stalberg -- by hockey tradition, his nickname is no doubt Sea Bass -- trimmed the deficit to 4-2, Coffman added a late goal.
Olivier Roy stopped 23 shots for Alaska to earn his fourth straight victory and his eighth win in his last nine starts.
Shuffling the deck
The game had a Lady Byng tone -- only three minor penalties were whistled. Two were on the Aces and one of those was a bench minor for too many men.
The Aces aren't quite halfway through the regular season -- they've played 33 of 72 games -- but they've already had a combined 12 players miss 152 games with injuries.
Five players have missed extended time -- more than half the club's games. Defenseman Sean Curry (lower-body injury) has missed 31 games; goaltender Gerald Coleman (offseason hip surgery) missed the first 29 games of the season before being recently activated and making his season debut; defenseman Corey Syvret (currently out) has missed a combined 20 games with multiple injuries; Andy Taranto (shoulder) has missed 18 games with a pair of injuries; and defenseman Zach Davies, who is back in the lineup, missed 24 games after undergoing surgery for a broken wrist.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Aces2 1 2 -- 5
SF 0 1 1 -- 2
First Period -- 1, Aces, Skelly 5 (Mazzolini), 5:25; 2, Aces, Sisca 9 (Trupp), 7:02. Penalties -- Ring-Jarvi, Aces (holding), 9:20.
Second Period -- 3, SF, Findlay 8 (Mitchell), 8:52; 4, Aces, Coffman 8 (Sivak), 12:59. Penalties -- Aces bench minor, served by Skelly (too many men), 10:50; Findlay, SF (unsportsmanlike conduct), 20:00.
Third Period -- 5, Aces, Sisca 10 (Coffman), 10:56 (pp); 6, SF, Stalberg 1 (Brace, Ouellet), 3:36; 7, Aces, Coffman 9, 16:49. Penalties -- None.
Shots on goal -- Aces 11-9-9--29. SF 8-6-11--25.
Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 1 of 1. SF 0 of 2.
Goalies -- Aces, Roy, 11-6-0 (25 shots-23 saves). SF, Beskorowany, 12-12-3 (29-24).
A -- Not provided (6,725). T -- 2:23.
Referee -- Stephen Reneau. Linesmen -- Steven Berry, Tanner Nua.
By DOYLE WOODY