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Reflections on Aces-Condors Game 1 (UPDATED)

Doyle Woody,Adn Staff

OK, maybe not reflections on the Alaska Aces' 2-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors in Game 1 of the ECHL's Western Conference finals Friday night -- that makes it sound like some smart stuff is coming your way -- but things that didn't make it into the game story.

* The defensive play of the night might have been the busting-his-butt, penalty-killing back-check by Condors forward Ryan Little early in the second period, when the game was still scoreless. The Aces caught the Condors on a line change and Alaska captain Nick Mazzolini, just inside the line on left wing, feathered a pass into the slot as linemates Evan Trupp and Brendan Connolly were streaking into the slot. Little dove with his stick out and broke up the pass at the last second. 

* Much like the Aces, Bakersfield's defensemen did an excellent job blocking shots and passes. Just glanced through my notes from the game and I've got at least one example of every Bako defenseman either making a clutch shot-block or breaking up an Aces centering pass.

* With the score tied 1-1 nearly midway through the first period and the pace accelerating, we got the obligatory pipe job -- Aces defenseman Zach Davies rang one off the iron.

* The one goal Aces netminder Olivier Roy surrendered wasn't a great one (Chris Collins, 5-hole from a tough angle), but he was stellar otherwise (25 saves) to lower his goals-against average to 2.20 (from 2.25) and raise his save percentage to .909 (from .893).

* Forgot to mention that Trupp's game-tying goal and assist on Jordan Morrison's game-winning strike inside the final three minutes came against his old club. Trupp's five goals have come in the last five games, so consider him heated up.

* Couldn't help but note how, with the score tied midway through the third period, Aces' defensemen were not shy about joining the attack. In a matter of shifts, I've got Sean Curry, John Ramage and Kane Lafranchise all making forays deep into the Condors zone.

* The Oh-Man-Seriously? moment of the game went to Lafranchise, who could only look to the rafters in frustration after his second-period, power-play snapper from low in the left circle zipped wide right of the junction between the crossbar and right posts. Oh, well, his rush and pass set up Trupp's game-tying goal.

* The Aces know how tough it is to crack Bako rookie goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who began the season with them, pitched two shutouts and in three appearances did not surrender a goal in an Aces sweater (40 shots, 40 saves, if memory serves). Brossoit in the regular season tied the ECHL record for shutouts (8). Said Trupp, with a grin: "We know how good he is. We had him.''

* Almost forgot to note: There is such a thing as a good penalty. Case in point: Condors forward Andrew Carroll took a hooking penalty late in the second period with his team leading 1-0. He got his stick on Brendan Connolly as Connolly broke in on Brossoit off Trupp's 2-on-1 pass. That was a penalty worth taking, especially given the opportunity Connolly would have been afforded and the score.

* In 10 playoff games, the Aces six times have surrendered just one goal and in nine games have given up two goals or fewer. Even the one game they gave up several goals, they beat Idaho 6-4 in Game 2 of the second round.

* Game 2 Saturday night is pivotal -- hell, they all are this time of season. The Aces with a win can maintain home-ice advantage and guarantee, at worst, the series will return to Anchorage. The Condors can seize home-ice advantage and go home knowing they have a chance to close out the Aces in California. Games 3-4-5 at set next week at Rabobank Arena.


By DOYLE WOODY, adn.com
Anchorage