After an off-day Sunday, the Alaska Aces and Cincinnati Cyclones, tied 1-1 in the best-of-7 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals, get back after it Monday night in Game 3 at Sullivan Arena.
Um, not to put too fine a point on it, but it's kind of a pivotal match. If the Aces win, they give themselves so wiggle room on the road -- worst-case scenario in this strange 3-3-1 format, they would only have to win one of three games in Cincinnati to bring the series back to Anchorage for Game 7. If the Cyclones win, they would gain wiggle room in knowing they could hoist the hardware by winning two of three games at home.
None of this is lost on Aces veteran goaltender Gerald Coleman, who stopped for a word with The Blog coming off the ice at Monday morning's game-day skate (Coleman is not one of those goalies who doesn't like to talk the day of the game; he's cool about it any time).
"You want momentum going into Game 4, especially in their barn, where they've been pretty good,'' Coleman said. "It could be 2-0 for either team the way this series has gone. We just need to play our game for a full 60 minutes.''
For those of you playing catch-up: The Aces won Game 1, 5-3 with an empty-net goal, and the Cyclones won Game 2, 2-1. So, basically, a pair of one-goal games.
One lineup change for the Aces: All-Rookie defenseman Brad Richard will make his postseason debut in place of Zach Davies, who has been scratched, said coach Rob Murray.
Richard was a healthy scratch the first two games of the playoffs against Las Vegas -- the Aces are very deep on the blue line -- and then suffered an upper-body injury in the game-day skate before Game 3 of that series in Sin City.
"He's been practicing and skating -- it's not like he's been sitting in the stands,'' Murray said. "He replaces Zach's offensive work, hopefully.''
All of the Aces took part in the morning skate, with the exception of goalie Olivier Roy, who was injured in Game 1. He received treatment for his lower-body injury, which is expected to shelve him the rest of the way.
Defenseman Drew MacKenzie, who has missed the last eight playoff games with an upper-body injury, was back practicing.
Oh, one addition on the practice ice today: Murray's daughter, Quinn (10), joined brothers Zach (12) and Brendan (7) for a twirl.
By DOYLE WOODY, adn.com