Aces defeat Eagles, split two-game series

Doyle Woody

Experience equaled excellent execution for the Alaska Aces on Saturday night, when their veteran players spearheaded a 4-1 road victory over the Colorado Eagles to earn a split of the two-game ECHL series.

Captain Nick Mazzolini bagged two goals and an assist. Brendan Connolly delivered a goal and two helpers. Peter Sivak furnished two assists to extend his point streak to seven games. And defenseman Sean Curry, back after missing 35 games with a lower-body injury, generated a short-handed strike that became the game-winning goal.

Backstopping all of that in just his third start since offseason hip surgery was Gerald Coleman, who helped the Aces to the 2011 Kelly Cup and Saturday night stopped 27 shots.

The victory was Alaska's first in four games against Colorado this season, all at the typically sold-out Budweiser Events Center. All three of those Aces defeats came by one goal, including Friday's 4-3 setback.

With Saturday's win, the Aces have earned at least a point in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2). They also gave themselves a little breathing room atop the Mountain Division, where they restored their lead over the Eagles to four points.

Sivak owns 4-9--13 totals in the last seven games. Mazzolini has a streak going too, 3-5--8 totals in the last six games. And Connolly, whose empty-netter assured victory, has contributed 2-6--8 totals in the last three matches.

Alaska (25-10-3) got off to a quick start when Connolly found Mazzolini open between the circles less than three minutes into the game and the captain cranked a one-timer past Marc Cheverie (22 saves).

Curry, who basically missed half a season after being injured in the first period of the second game of the season Oct. 19, pushed the lead to 2-0 just 62 seconds into the second period.

Colorado (21-11-7) responded a mere 17 seconds later, when former Aces winger Alex Hudson banged in a rebound just after a power play expired.

But Coleman held the high-powered Eagles in check the rest of the way, and Mazzolini restored Alaska's two-goal lead at 3-1 less than four minutes into the third period when he scored off feeds from Sivak and Connolly.

Aces coach Rob Murray juggled his forwards to give the club a power line, with Mazzolini centering Sivak and Connolly. Sivak ranks second in the league in points, and tops the circuit in assists, with 13-30--43 totals in 34 games.

Alaska returns home for six consecutive games at Sullivan Arena, beginning Wednesday, when it opens a three-game series against the Idaho Steelheads.

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Aces 1 1 2 -- 4

Colorado 0 1 0 -- 1

First Period -- 1, Aces, Mazzolini 12 (Connolly), 2:23. Penalties -- Connolly, Aces (tripping), 6:35; Mele, Aces (cross-checking), 14:10; Gorham, Aces (tripping), 19:11.

Second Period -- 2, Aces, Curry 1 (Sivak, Davies), 1:02 (sh); 3, Colorado, Hudson 7 (Hau, Hood), 1:19. Penalties -- Gardner, Colorado (tripping), 5:43; Nemec, Colorado (roughing), 13:56; Skelly, Aces (tripping), 14:14.

Third Period -- 4, Aces, Mazzolini 13 (Sivak, Connolly), 3:405, Aces, Connolly 9 (Mazzolini, Richard), 19:31 (en). Penalties -- Ryder, Colorado (delay of game), 16:03.

Shots on goal -- Aces 10-9-7--26. Colorado 7-8-13--28.

Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 0 of 3. Colorado 0 of 4.

Goalies -- Aces, Coleman, 2-0-1 (28 shots-27 saves). Colorado, Cheverie, 14-5-6 (25-22).

A -- 5,289 (5,289). T -- 2:19.

Referee -- Peter Tarnaris. Linesmen -- Chris Wilson, Seth Mukai.