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Aces make make returning defenseman Syvret their first announced signing

Doyle Woody
Erik Hill

Corey Syvret was so eager to remain with the Alaska Aces in the upcoming hockey season that he started lobbying for continued employment literally minutes after last season ended.

This was a Monday night in early June inside U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, where the Aces beat the Cyclones in Game 6 of the Kelly Cup Finals to seize their third championship in 11 ECHL seasons.

As Aces players and staff lined up on the blue line, waiting for captain Nick Mazzolini to be presented with the Kelly Cup, defenseman Corey Syvret glanced down the line and caught coach Rob Murray’s attention.

“Rob was only a couple people down the line from me and I said something along the lines of, ‘Can we start negotiating now?’ " Syvret said.

Murray, recalling the team’s overnight drive from Cincinnati to Chicago to catch a flight home, said Syvret couldn’t sign quick enough.

“He would have signed on the bus if he could have,’’ Murray said.

League rules precluded such a fast deal, but Syvret and the Aces got what they wanted -- the club on Thursday announced Syvret as the first of their offseason signings.

“He was the one guy who basically signed in his exit meeting,’’ Murray said. “He basically said, ‘I’m coming back and that’s that.’ ’’

Like most ECHL clubs, once the Aces begin announcing signings, they usually reveal one or two a week over the next six to eight weeks. The aim is to gain frequent publicity.

Syvret, 25, said he never considered playing elsewhere.

“It’s one of the best organizations -- great fans, great management, great owners, and a coach who is as good as you get at this level,’’ Syvret said by cellphone from Canada.

Syvret was reached moments after he said he carded a 3-over-par 75 at Forest City National Golf Club in London, Ontario. He’s a 4 handicap.

He’ll be returning for a third season with the Aces, and the upcoming season will be his fifth as a pro.

“It feels like home,’’ Syvret said. “And when you’re off the ice, you’re comfortable because there’s so much to do -- fishing, hunting, snowmobiling. You have the best of the best.’’

Syvret said he doesn’t expect the Aces, who have won four consecutive Brabham Cups as ECHL regular-season champions, to make dramatic changes as they seek to become the first team to repeat as league playoff champions since the Toledo Storm in 1993-94.

“You pretty much try to replicate what you did,’’ he said.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder aims for good health. Syvret was limited to 28 regular-season games last season (2-13—15 totals, plus-16 rating), when he missed 38 straight games with a broken tibia and high ankle sprain that also included ligament damage.

Syvret was one of a slew the Aces who endured injuries last season, when 18 different players missed a total of 353 regular-season games because of injury. That’s the most games Alaska players have missed to injury in the last six seasons.

But Syvret returned to the lineup for the last 16 games of the regular season and skated in all 21 playoff games, furnishing six assists and a plus-5 rating.

“You really didn’t know what to expect from him when he came back (from injury),’’ Murray said. “But when he came back, he probably played his best hockey of the season. And in the playoffs, he was solid, solid.

“He’s not flashy, not many points, but he’s as solid as they come and guys really like him. When he keeps it simple like he did in the playoffs, that’s when he’s at his best -- he makes a good first pass and the points will come.’’

Reach reporter Doyle Woody at dwoody@adn.com and check out his blog at adn.com/hockey-blog