A couple of the Alaska Aces' goals tonight in their Game 4 win at Bakersfield -- Aces won 4-1 to even ECHL Western Conference finals at 2-2 in the best-of-7 that continues Sunday in California -- are worth some more words, The Blog reckons.
Captain Nick Mazzolini's goal just 13 seconds in came off a nice, hard, accurate stretch pass from defenseman John Ramage from his own zone to the captain at the Bako line. That's one way to get the puck through the neutral zone with speed -- nothing is faster than the puck.
Mazzolini's second goal featured two excellent assists. Winger Evan Trupp stick-handled nicely in neutral ice on right wing, which bought defenseman Kane Lafranchise time to join the attack. Trupp dished to Lafranchise, who stormed deep into the zone on right wing. If you were watching the television broadcast, you might have noticed Lafranchise sneak a peak at the net as a defenseman approached -- spoke with him tonight on the phone and he said he saw Mazzolini and Brendan Connolly both heading to the net. The left-handed Lafranchise turned on his forehand near the goal line and whistled a pass to the net, where Mazzolini and Condors defenseman Erik Burgdoerfer were. Mazzolini got his stick on the ice -- Burgdoerfer no doubt would tell you he has got to tied up Mazzolini's stick in that instance -- and steered the pass inside the left post.
On Lafranchise's power-play goal -- and that gave the Aces a 3-0 lead in just 4:07 -- he sneaked in the back door from the left point and converted Mazzolini's cross-crease pass from just below the goal line in right wing. If memory serves that's the fifth power-play goal by an Aces defenseman in these playoffs that has come when a blueliner sneaked from the left point to the bottom of the left circle -- The Blog seems to recall all four of Drew MacKenzie's power-play goals coming off that set play.
Lafranchise and Ramage have been an excellent pairing, playing like two guys who spent most of the season in the AHL. They did, with Abbotsford.
Anyhow, that 3-0 lead turned a usually roaring crowd at Rabobank Arena into a reserved gathering.
Turner Elson's goal was filthy. You can read about it in Sunday's dead-trees newspaper or check it out in the online final game story The Blog wrote, which should be posted now or soon at adn.com
Remember, the Aces have now played eight straight games without winger Peter Sivak (upper-body injury). That's notable because he was All-ECHL, the league's second-leading scorer and tied for second among regular-season goal scorers with 31.
Also, MacKenzie has not played in the last four games -- all of the Bako series -- because of what is being termed illness.
That's two principal players missing from the lineup. It happens this time of year. Bako in Game 2 lost forward Ryan Watson, who left the rink on crutches, which likely means he's done for this series and likely for the season. It's tough all over.
Also remember, regardless of what happens Sunday in Game 5 -- and expect Laurent Brossoit to be better in goal for Bako -- Game 6 is Tuesday night at Sullivan Arena. Game 7, if necessary -- and don't the odds, and the strength of the teams in this series, make this feel like it will be -- will be Wednesday night at Sullivan.
Aces coach Rob Murray sees no reason to tinker with his goalie rotation, so Olivier Roy will got in Game 5. Gerald Coleman was excellent in Game 4, which is noted at some length in the game story online and in the dead-trees edition.
Lastly, sorry there hasn't been much on the blog lately. Had to take care of some off-ice stuff. Your patience and understanding s appreciated.
By DOYLE WOODY, adn.com