The goal Alaska Aces captain Nick Mazzolini delivered in his club's 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 1 of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals on Friday didn't just open the scoring, it lifted him into rare territory.
Mazzolini's strike 74 seconds into the opener of the best-of-7 series was not only his sixth goal in the last five games, but his 28th point in 16 playoff games this spring. That ties forward Josh Soares' club record for playoff points -- Soares earned 10-18--28 totals in 21 playoff games for the Aces in 2009, when they lost in Game 7 of the Finals to the South Carolina Stingrays.
Mazzolini, a center from Anchorage, leads the league in playoff scoring with 10-18--28 totals.
He has delivered 6-5--11 totals in his current five-game point streak. Mazzolini has furnished at least one point in 14 of the Aces' 16 postseason games and has generated multiple points in nine of those matches.
As for Soares, he moved on after that 2009 playoff run and embarked on the European tour of his career. He's played in Germany, Sweden and, this season, in both Sweden and Austria.
Take it from a guy who knows
Aces center Jordan Morrison scored his game-winning goal on a move familiar to Aces veteran goaltender Gerald Coleman.
Morrison initially appeared as if he would unleash a slap shot, but threw in a hesitation move as he lowered his stick toward the puck. His ensuing shot zipped past Cyclones goalie Rob Madore, off the crossbar, and into the net.
Coleman said Morrison changes the angle of his stick during the hesitation move, and that the hesitation also "creates more holes'' in the goalie because he expects the shot sooner than it arrives.
"He scores on me all the time in practice with that,'' Coleman said, grinning. "I hate him. I want to slash him when he does that.''
Ironman Madore tough to crack
Elson Turner's empty-net goal was the rookie winger's fifth straight game with a goal. And it was a relief -- finally, Madore (37 saves), who has played every minute of the postseason, wasn't there to deny him.
Madore stopped all six of Elson's shots. That included a right-pad save on Elson's second-period breakaway and a right-pad save on a 2-on-1 pass Elson received from Evan Trupp early in the third period with the game tied 3-3. Elson also hit the crossbar in the second period.
He gave big props to Madore, who at 5-foot-11 is considered a relatively small goaltender, but is very aggressive about coming out to the top of his crease or beyond to cut down a shooter's angle.
"He's so quick,'' Elson said. "He challenges, and he makes himself bigger when he challenges.''
Shuffling the deck
The Aces improved to 6-2 at Sullivan Arena in these playoffs, and their only home-ice losses came in overtime.
The Cyclones slipped to 7-3 on the road. Their two previous road losses came in overtime.
Mazzolini, Cincinnati's Josh Shalla and teammate Wade Megan, who all scored Friday, are tied for the league lead in playoff goals with 10 each.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog and follow his live tweets throughout the Kelly Cup Finals @sportsadn.
By DOYLE WOODY