When Tommy Mele scored on a third-period deflection Wednesday night to cap the scoring in the Alaska Aces' 6-1 win over visiting Ontario, the strike marked his 10th goal this hockey season and made him the ninth Aces to reach double figures.
Mele's goal at Sullivan Arena was another indication of the Aces' depth not just in this season, but also in this game between ECHL Western Conference powers -- he was the sixth different Alaska skater to score Wednesday and among the 13 of Alaska's 16 skaters to register a point.
Alaska's victory also carried implications in the standings. It pulled Alaska (33-14-3) to within two points of conference-leading Ontario (33-14-5) and restored the Aces to ownership of the league's top winning percentage. They elevated their winning percentage to .690, ahead of Ontario's .683.
On a night when Gerald Coleman stopped 27 shots before an announced crowd of 4,280, the Aces scored on their first two shots inside the opening four minutes and rolled to a 4-0 second period lead before Ontario answered.
"When we're rolling three lines and playing hard, we're a tough team,'' said rookie winger Andy Taranto, who opened the scoring on the power play. "We played our systems well, got pucks in deep, cycled the puck, were good on the rush, and our special teams were good.''
They Aces converted two of seven power plays and held the Reign scoreless on five power plays to snap a string of seven straight games in which they had surrendered a man-advantage goal.
Wednesday's game marked the home-ice debut of center Tyler Mosienko, who joined the club on the road last week. The former Las Vegas Wrangler furnished two assists to give him five points in his first four games with Alaska. And for the first time in his career, the Aces' Cowbell Crew fan base supported him.
"It's nice to have those people on your side,'' Mosienko said. "It definitely motivates you and pumps you up.''
Mosienko was one of several players relatively new to the Aces who contributed on the score sheet. Winger Brett Findlay led the way with one goal and two assists and Turner Elson added his second goal as an Ace. Taranto, who has been back five games since a long-term shoulder injury, added his fourth goal since his return.
Taranto, who has patrolled right wing on Mosienko's line in all four games since the veteran pivot pulled on an Aces sweater, said Mosienko's leadership is a boon to a rookie like him.
"The thing I like about him is he always has a plan of attack and we're always communicating,'' Taranto said.
Some of the usual suspects delivered too. Peter Sivak bagged his team-leading 21st goal on a 2-on-1 in which he took captain Nick Mazzolini's pass on his backhand on the rush and shot in one motion to beat Jussi Olkinuora (28 saves). Mazzolini furnished two assists, as did Brendan Connolly in his return after missing two games with a lower-body injury.
The Reign weren't able to crack Coleman until midway through the game. Even then, Matt Register's stick-side wrister past Coleman after a give-and-go with Tyler Gron only cut the visitors' deficit to 4-1. Mele and Findlay tacked on third-period goals.
Alaska's victory evened the season series between the teams 3-3 -- four of those games have been played in Anchorage and two of them in California.
The Reign were without their leading scorer, Mario Lamoureux, who last season led ECHL rookies in scoring. According to eliteprospects.com, he has decided to join his brother, former Aces stalwart goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, on a team in Austria.
The ECHL's deadline for adding players from European teams passed Saturday -- the Aces signed Mosienko, who had been playing in Denmark, at the deadline -- and that means Lamoureux cannot rejoin the Reign this season.
Alaska's win snapped a two-game losing streak, which included a 4-2 loss at Ontario on Sunday.
The Aces improved their league-best, home-ice record to 21-6-1 heading into Friday night's rematch. The series wraps Saturday night.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Ontario 0 1 0 -- 1
Aces 2 2 2 -- 6
First Period -- 1, Aces, Taranto 8 (Mazzolini, Connolly), 2:25 (pp); 2, Aces, Davies 17 (Findlay, Mosienko), 3:22. Penalties -- Kitsyn, Ontario (hooking), 1:20; MacKenzie, Aces (holding), 12:19; Connolly, Aces (roughing), 17:09.
Second Period -- 3, Aces, Sivak 21 (Mazzolini, Connolly), :31; 4, Aces, Elson 2 (Findlay, Richard), 4:49; 5, Ontario, Register 9 (Gron, Burt), 11:00. Penalties -- Burt, Ontario (slashing), 5:10; Burt, Ontario (goaltender interference), 12:26; Sheen, Ontario (roughing), 18:23.
Third Period -- 6, Aces, Mele 10 (MacKenzie, Mosienko), 2:11; 7, Aces, Findlay 13 (Morrison, Curry), 16:37 (pp). Penalties -- Crane, Ontario (interference), 3:52; Molle, Aces (high-sticking), 6:14; Connolly, Aces, double-minor (hooking, unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:04; Sheen, Ontario (delay of game-closing hand on puck), 9:46; Beebe, Ontario, served by Kitsyn, minor-misconduct, (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:36.
Shots on goal -- Ontario 10-7-11--28. Aces 6-15-13--34.
Power-play Opportunities -- Ontario 0 of 5. Aces 2 of 7.
Goalies -- Ontario, Olkinuora, 7-8-1 (34 shots-28 saves). Aces, Coleman, 10-3-1 (28-27).
A -- 4,280 (6,399). T -- 2:22.
Referee -- Pierre Lambert. Linesmen -- Travis Jackson, Josh Ellis.
By DOYLE WOODY