Early in these ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs, the Alaska Aces are ruling by rotation when it comes to goaltending.
Veteran Gerald Coleman has won both his starts, in Games 1 and 3, to help propel the Aces to a 3-0 lead in their best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinals series against the Las Vegas Wranglers. Olivier Roy won his lone start in Game 2 and will be in net Friday night when the Aces go for the sweep in Nevada.
Coleman in 2011 backstopped the Aces to the second Kelly Cup in franchise history, starting 12 of 13 games that spring. Roy last season with the Stockton Thunder helped eliminate the Aces in the conference semifinals and get his club to the Kelly Cup Finals, where the Thunder fell to the Reading Royals. He started 22 of Stockton's 23 playoff games.
Aces coach Rob Murray believes both goalies are capable of delivering results, so he wants to keep both sharp.
"It's a luxury I've got right now, so why not use it?'' Murray said.
Old-school hockey philosophy dictates making one goalie a team's postseason pillar, but the Aces have prospered previously by splitting the playoff load between two goalies.
On the march to the franchise's first Kelly Cup in 2006, Chris Beckford-Tseu played 12 of the club's 22 games and Matt Underhill played 10. Both won eight games.
And four of the eight previous Kelly Cup winners entering this postseason have used two goalies to the extent that the lesser-used goalie played at least 30 percent of the team's minutes.
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Las Vegas Wranglers
ECHL Western Conference Quarterfinals
Aces lead 3-0 in best-of-7 series
WHEN: Game 4, Friday, 6:05 p.m. ADT
RADIO: AM-750 and FM-103.7 KFQD
Triumphs by tandem
While conventional wisdom dictates hockey teams lean on one goaltender in the playoffs, Alaska Aces coach Rob Murray through three games has used Gerald Coleman twice and Olivier Roy once, and plans to start Roy against the Las Vegas Wranglers in Friday’s Game 4 of the ECHL’s Western Conference quarterfinals series.
And, actually, two goalies sharing the load hasn’t been unusual in the recent history of Kelly Cup-winning teams. In the previous eight seasons, four Cup winners have used two goalies to the degree that the less-used masked man played at least 30 percent of the team’s minutes. That group includes the Aces, who in 2006 used Chris Beckford-Tseu 57 percent of the time and Matt Underhill 43 percent of the time.
SEASON KELLY CUP WINNER GOALIES GOALIE’S RECORD PERCENT OF PLAYING TIME
2012 Florida Everblades John Muse* 11-2-069.7
2010Cincinnati CyclonesJeremy Smith*9-8-066.0
2009South Carolina StingraysJonathan Boutin12-4-065.5
2006Alaska AcesChris Beckford-Tseu8-4-057.0
*Denotes playoff Most Valuable Player; Smith and Mayer shared the award.
Sealing the series
The Alaska Aces, who lead the Las Vegas Wranglers 3-0 entering Friday night’s Game 4 of the ECHL Western Conference quarterfinals series, have a history of making short work of opponents when they own a 3-0 series advantage. In eight previous series when they have held a 3-0 cushion, the Aces have six sweeps and twice ended series in five games.
YEAR OPPONENT SERIES RESULT
2011Victoria Salmon KingsWestern Conference FinalsAces sweep
2011Idaho SteelheadsWestern Conference SemifinalsAces sweep
2009Las Vegas WranglersNational Conference FinalsAces sweep
2009Victoria Salmon KingsWest Division FinalsAces in 5 games
2008 Idaho SteelheadsNational Conference QuarterfinalsAces sweep
2007Bakersfield CondorsNational Conference SemifinalsAces sweep
2006Gwinnett GladiatorsKelly Cup FinalsAces in 5 games
2006Utah GrizzliesWest Division SemifinalsAces sweep
By DOYLE WOODY