CINCINNATI -- Hard to imagine where the Cincinnati Cyclones would have been without the startling play of goaltender Rob Madore.
Most likely a tee box or putting green somewhere, well ahead of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals.
On the night the Alaska Aces beat the Cyclones 4-0 to seize the Cup in six games, Madore on Monday was selected the playoffs Most Valuable Player in a vote of media and league officials.
For Madore, the honor was bittersweet. He stood in the Cyclones locker room, his MVP sitting nearby, and considered the moment.
"It's an individual award at a time when it's not about the individual,'' Madore said. "It's not that I'm ungrateful. It's just not the trophy we wanted. The guys played really hard, and we wanted to win for our fans.''
Madore played every minute of the postseason, going 14-10 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. He stopped 41 of 44 shots in Alaska's Cup-clincher.
"He gave his team every chance to win,'' said Aces captain Nick Mazzolini. "We threw as much rubber at him as we could.''
Madore became the first player on a losing team in the Finals to be voted MVP in the 26-season history of the league. He's the 30th MVP in league history -- there have been co-winners four times -- and the 19th goalie honored. Eleven forwards have been voted MVP -- that list includes Aces wingers Scott Howes (2011) and Mike Scott (2006) -- and no defenseman has ever won the award.
He said the Aces proved a strong opponent.
"All credit to the Aces -- they played really hard,'' Madore said.
Madore is getting married Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y.
"It would have been nice to get two rings in a week,'' he said.
Mazzolini, Aces goalie Gerald Coleman and Aces center Jordan Morrison were all candidates to win the MVP.
Mazzolini led all playoff scorers with 11-20--31 totals in 21 games, and delivered one goal and one assist Monday. He tied for the league lead in goals and led the circuit in assists. Those 31 points are the fifth-most in league history.
Coleman, who also backstopped the Aces to the 2011 championship, went 10-4 with a league-leading 1.33 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and two shutouts, both in the Finals. His six career shutouts are No. 2 all-time in league playoff history.
And Morrison, Alaska's best skater in the Finals, generated 9-5--14 totals in 21 games, and was a strong presence defensively, particularly on the penalty kill.
Shuffling the deck
Winger Brendan Connolly, who had two assists Monday, generated six assists in the last four games.
Defenseman Drew MacKenzie's power-play goal was his fifth goal of playoffs, tops among defenseman. All of them came on the power play.
Ron Sutter, the former NHLer -- and, yes, one of those Sutter brothers, and the Calgary Flames' director of player development -- attended the last two games of the Finals. The Aces are affiliated with the Flames.
Sutter played 1,093 NHL regular-season games and another 104 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was a first-round draft pick, fourth overall, and played for seven different teams.
The Aces are the only team in league history to advance to the Finals four times. Before this year, they beat the Kalamazoo Wings in five games in 2011 and the Gwinnett Gladiators in five games in 2006. Alaska lost to South Carolina in seven games in 2009.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog
By DOYLE WOODY