CINCINNATI -- The Aces departed Anchorage Tuesday night on a direct flight to Chicago, jumped on a bus — well, eventually — and journeyed the 320 miles to Cincinnati for actual travel time of 14 hours.
Throw in an early arrival at the Anchorage airport and they endured a solid 16-hour travel day. It would have been at least 60 to 90 minutes shorter, but the bus was late getting to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Their transportation to Cincinnati was a sleeper bus, so most players were able to get a few hours sleep or rest in the back of the bus, where light didn’t penetrate. Up front, others lounged or napped on two short couches on either side of the aisle. Bench boss Rob Murray took the captain’s chair, a recliner of sorts across from the bus driver.
When the Aces walked off the bus at 5 p.m. EDT, the temperature was 82 degrees and the humidity was 74 percent. For folks accustomed to Anchorage weather, conditions felt hot and muggy, especially after a grueling travel day, and made everyone feel sluggish.
“Beats a desk job,’’ winger Tommy Mele chirped as he carried his luggage into the team hotel. “Although, I can’t move.’’
Climbing the charts
With his eight wins this postseason, Aces goaltender Gerald Coleman has vaulted into second place all-time for ECHL playoff victories.
Coleman is 8-3 this season, and 29-16 in 45 career postseason appearances over five ECHL seasons, four of them with the Aces. He started the season seventh on the all-time list.
The league record for playoff wins is 43 by Nick Vitucci, a member of the ECHL’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2008. Vitucci racked up that total in 80 appearances spanning 10 playoff seasons.
Coleman owns a league-leading 1.23 goals-against average in 11 games this postseason. The league record for playoff goals-against average is somewhat sketchy, since it does not seem to require much of a minimum number of appearances or minutes played. Trenton’s Joel Martin recorded a 1.08 goals-against average in 2007, but he played just three games. Toledo’s Doug Teskey, the former UAA masked man, recorded a 1.17 in 2003, when he played in six playoff games.
To give you some idea how explosive the Aces and Cyclones can be, check out how quickly they can reel off goals.
The Aces in 18 playoff games have on 11 occasions scored two goals in a span of 2 minutes, 28 seconds or less.
The Cyclones in 21 playoff games have nine times banged out two goals in 2:10 or less
And both clubs have shown their quick-strike capabilities in the Finals.
In the Aces’ 5-3 win in Game 1, Jordan Morrison and Brett Findlay scored 2:38 apart in the second period to wipe out Cincinnati’s 3-1 lead. The Cyclones in their 2-1 win in Game 2 used first-period markers from Byron Froese and Jonathan Hazen 21 seconds apart to dismiss Alaska’s 1-0 lead.
And in Monday’s 2-0 Aces win in Game 3, Jordan Morrison and Tyler Mosienko struck 2:22 apart deep into the third period of a thriller.
Shuffling the deck
The Aces have outshot their opponents in all 18 playoff games.
Captain Nick Mazzolini has delivered at least one shot in all 18 games and multiple shots in 16. Rookie winger Turner Elson has furnished at least one shot in all 18 games. Brendan Connolly has at least one shot in all 16 of his appearances and multiple shots in all but one, and Tommy Mele has at least one shot in all 14 games he has played.
Ryan McKelvie, the older brother of Aces defenseman Zach and a former UAA assistant coach, last month resigned his post at Division III Lake Forest (Ill.) — he was the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Coach of the Year after guiding the Foresters to a 15-12-1 mark this past season — to take a position in Wenatchee, Wash.
McKelvie, who prior to working at UAA in the 2010-11 season spent two years as an assistant coach with the North American Hockey League’s Wenatchee Wild, became head coach and director of hockey operations for the expansion Wenatchee Wolves in the Tier III Northern Pacific Hockey League. His wife, Megan, is from Wenatchee. He played his college hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Find Doyle Woody’s blog at adn.com/hockeyblog and follow his live tweets from every Kelly Cup Finals game @sportsadn.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News