Sisca powers Aces over the Bulls

Doyle Woody

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.

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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.