In the course of these ECHL Western Conference finals -- the Alaska Aces lead the Bakersfield Condors 3-2 in the best-of-7 heading into Tuesday night's Game 6 at Sullivan Arena -- Aces rookie winger Turner Elson is proving indispensable.
He began the series at right wing on Tyler Mosienko's third line. With left wing Brett Findlay out, he moved up to the left side on Jordan Morrison's second line. And, now, with left wing Brendan Morrison out (upper-body injury) on Nick Mazzolini's first line, it looks, judging from the morning skate, that Elson will move up to the first line in Game 6.
Elson has furnished one goal in each of the last three games.
"He's a multi-dimensional player,'' Aces coach Rob Murray said after this morning's game-day skate at Sullivan Arena. "He can fit in on a checking line, but he's got the skill set to fit in on a scoring line.''
Keeping up won't be a problem -- one of Elson's greatest attributes is his skating and speed.
Turner played 34 games this season for the AHL's Abbotsford Heat (2-1--3 totals) and 18 regular-season games for the Aces (5-10--15). In the playoffs, he's 3-3--6 and +6 in 14 games, and has been sharp on the penalty kill.
Findlay was back skating at this morning's short practice and looks to be back in the lineup tonight on Morrison's left wing, with Alex Belzile in his usual post on Morrison's right side.
Defenseman James Martin, who has been out with an upper-body injury, was also back skating. Ditto for rookie defenseman Brad Richard, who has missed most of the playoffs with an upper-body injury.
Connolly and defenseman Drew MacKenzie (upper-body) were the only two Aces that did not skate. All-ECHL winger Peter Sivak, who has missed the last nine games with an upper-body injury, is back skating in practice, but don't expect to see him in this series.
Murray is sticking with his goaltender rotation, so that means the start in Game 6 goes to veteran Gerald Coleman. His 1.40 goals-against average in seven games (5-2, both losses in OT) leads the league.
The Aces are shooting for their fourth Kelly Cup Finals appearance in the last nine seasons -- they won the Cup in 2011 and 2006, and lost to South Carolina in seven games in 2009. Bakersfield, playing in the first conference finals in franchise history, is shooting to force a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.
By DOYLE WOODY, adn.com