Aces blank the Condors 3-0

Doyle Woody

Alaska Aces veteran goaltender Gerald Coleman perused the statistics of former teammate and current Bakersfield Condors masked man Laurent Brossoit this week and knew he needed to deliver a prime performance Friday night.

After all, the rookie Brossoit, who began the season with the Aces before a trade of his NHL contract landed him with the Condors, entered Friday leading the ECHL in goals-against average (1.89) and shutouts (7), and has backstopped Bakersfield’s resurrection. He shut out the Aces last month in California.

Coleman delivered the goods, stopping 26 shots for his first bagel of the season and helping the Aces to a 3-0 victory in the series opener before an announced crowd of 5,308 at Sullivan Arena.

The shutout was the 10th by an Aces goaltender this season — Brossoit bagged two in November, against his current team, no less — and that ties a club record and is one short of tying the league record set by Wheeling in 2003-04.

Brossoit owns seven shutouts this season — two for Alaska, five for Bakersfield — and that leaves him one shy of matching the league record of former Aces goalie Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (2009) and South Carolina’s Ryan Zapolski (2013).

Also, four of the five meetings between Alaska and Bakersfield this season have been shutouts.

“You know it’s going to be a low-scoring game, the way (Brossoit’s) been playing, the numbers he has and all the shutouts,’’ Coleman said. “He’s on the rise of his career and I’m probably on the down side, so you want to compare yourself to guy who had your job at the start of the season.’’

The Aces (36-16-4) remained atop the ECHL as they pursue a fourth straight Brabham Cup as the regular-season champions. The Cup will be determined by winning percentage this season and the Aces are at .679 to Orlando’s .661 and Ontario’s .658.

Bakersfield (27-23-5) lost its six-game point streak (5-0-1). The Aces and Condors play again Saturday night and close their series with a Sunday matinee.

After defenseman Brad Richard furnished Alaska a 1-0 lead in the first period on a power-play wrister between Brossoit’s pads — Brossoit would love that one back — the game turned in part on a pivotal sequence early in the second period.

Alaska rookie winger Andy Taranto was whistled for holding on an offensive rush and winger Brendan Connolly seconds later was hit with an unusual call for diving. Usually in that circumstance, the referee penalizes a player from each team — one for tripping or such, the other for embellishment — but Connolly was the only one sent to the penalty box.

In any event, that left the Aces facing a two-man disadvantage for 1 minute, 45 seconds. Coleman stopped three shots in that stretch, and received considerable help. Captain Nick Mazzolini and his active stick interrupted passes. Defenseman Sean Curry made a pass to himself off the wall and cleared the zone. Defenseman James Martin added a clear. And center Jordan Morrison picked off a pass in the neutral zone, broke up a pass on the back door in the defensive zone and blocked a shot.

“It was one of those things where I thought, ‘If we can find a way to get out of this, it’s going to be momentum on our side,’ ” Coleman said.

Just 32 seconds after Bakersfield’s power play expired because George Hughes was sentenced for holding, Mazzolini scored on a power-play rebound from the slot, with Brossoit down after making a save, for a 2-0 Aces lead.

Peter Sivak, who assisted on the goals from Richard and Mazzolini, pushed the lead to 3-0 in the final minute of the second period. He picked off a Bakersfield power-play pass to spring himself on a short-handed breakaway.

Sivak said he remembered before the game he often went to his forehand against Brossoit in early-season practices, so he thought to change it up if he got an opportunity Friday.

“I did know what I would do,’’ Sivak said.

And that was fake a forehand shot and go to his backhand — he slipped it through Brossoit’s pads for his team-leading 23rd goal and a 3-0 lead.

“I knew he was going to do something finesse, and I thought I had it covered,’’ Brossoit said. “But he’s such a good player.’’

The Aces went 2 for 6 on the power play and their penalty-kill, which has been mediocre lately, killed all five Condor’s power plays.

“Our special teams really brought it this evening,’’ Mazzolini said.

The Aces also got a boost from the return of defenseman Corey Syvret, who had missed the last 38 games with a lower-body injury. He was plus-1.

Mazzolini said his club generated a team effort.

“Everyone, top to bottom,’’ he said. “Not too many holes.’’ 


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Bakersfield 0  0  0  — 0

Aces 1  2  0  — 3

First Period — 1, Aces, Richard 5 (Mazzolini, Sivak), 8:16 (pp). Penalties — Thurber, Bakersfield (hooking), 8:01; Taranto, Aces (slashing), 16:52; Watson, Bakersfield, double-minor (high-sticking), 17:01.

Second Period — 2, Aces, Mazzolini 21 (MacKenzie, Sivak), 6:14 (pp); 3, Aces, Sivak 23, 19:34 (sh). Penalties — Taranto, Aces (tripping), 3:28; Connolly, Aces (unsportsmanlike conduct-diving), 3:44; Hughes, Bakersfield (holding), 5:42; Leach, Bakersfield (roughing), 10:41; Connolly, Aces (roughing), 18:42.

Third Period — None. Penalties — Syvret, Aces (holding), 10:36; Leach, Bakersfield (elbowing), 19:46.

Shots on goal — Bakersfield 9-9-8—26. Aces 9-14-7—30.

Power-play Opportunities — Bakersfield 0 of 5. Aces 2 of 6.

Goalies — Bakersfield, Brossoit, 19-7-2 (30 shots-27 saves). Aces, Coleman, 12-5-2 (26-26).

A — 5,308 (6,399). T — 2:28.

Referee — Chris Pitoscia. Linesmen — Travis Jackson, Josh Ellis.