Doyle Woody

The Alaska Aces on Tuesday acquired forward Collin Valcourt from Quad City, according to the ECHL. Or, the Aces signed him as a free agent, per their press release. Still waiting for some clarity -- trade or free-agent signing? -- but the principal news is the same: Valcourt is an Ace. (Really, the difference is, if it was a trade, presumably the Aces gave up something, even if merely token cash.) UPDATE : Kurt Haider of the Aces hooked me up with some knowledge -- technically, the deal is a trade, but involved an immigration issue (Valcourt is Canadian) and a fee from the Aces to Quad City that was so nominal I might have an equivalent amount in my couch cushions). In any event, Valcourt, 22, did not have a goal for the Mallards in 11 games, but did have four assists, including one...Doyle Woody
Even Mason Mitchell thoughtfully second-guessed Mason Mitchell. The UAA freshman winger spearheaded a 3-on-1 rush in the final minute of overtime in Saturday night’s 1-1 nonconference hockey tie with Penn State, and he chose to fire a wrist shot from the left circle. Mitchell, who less than three minutes into the game at Sullivan Arena beat Nittany Lions senior goaltender Matthew Skoff with a bullet to the blocker side, tried to beat Skoff to the glove side in OT. Skoff squeezed his left arm to his torso, absorbed the puck high on his chest and cradled it for a whistle. “I probably should have passed,’’ Mitchell said in hindsight. His center, Blake Tatchell, said he was locked and loaded to shoot if he received a pass. Still, Tatchell is a playmaker – 65 assists in 120 career games – and...Doyle Woody
Entering Saturday, the Alaska Aces (5-10-2) owned the third-worst winning percentage (.353) in the ECHL. Their offense (2.53 goals per game) ranked 24th on the 28-team circuit. Their power play (13.0 percent) ranked 21st. Their shooting percentage (.079) ranked 25th. And they earlier endured a franchise-record, eight-game winless streak (0-7-1) that's the longest in the league this season. Their most obvious shortcoming is a lack of offense. They average 32.06 shots per game (6th on the circuit) but don't get much out of those chances. So what can they do to bolster the offense? Barring better scoring from the current crop of forwards, not a lot. The Aces are unaffiliated, so they are unlikely to get help of any kind from an AHL team. Their dearth of scoring doesn't give them much in the...Doyle Woody
Seawolves goaltender Olivier Mantha wasn’t his sharpest Friday night, but he wasn’t awful. Defenseman Austin Sevalrud has played better, yet UAA’s captain didn’t seem to merit the indignity of the minus-4 that accompanied his name on the score sheet. And while the Seawolves certainly didn’t turn Penn State masked man Eamon McAdam’s crease at Sullivan Arena into a shooting gallery – 21 shots on goal -- they generated enough scoring chances to prosper. Penn State’s 5-2 nonconference hockey win over UAA, spearheaded by Andrew Sturtz’s two goals, McAdam’s timely stops and ample bounce-back from the Nittany Lions, proved difficult to digest for the Seawolves. “It was a strange game,’’ Sevalrud said. “It was a frustrating game.’’ He endured it as much as anyone in green and gold. Sturtz’s first...Doyle Woody
Though the sample size is small – eight hockey games – the Alaska Aces have been one of the ECHL’s worst teams in killing penalties on the road. Their third-period performance Friday night reinforced that shortcoming. The Quad City Mallards scored on both their third-period power plays and added an empty-net goal to deliver a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Aces at the iWireless Center in Moline, Illinois. Alaska’s hosts have now converted 7 of 21 power plays for 33.3 percent efficiency that has spotlighted the Aces’ penalty-killing deficiency. The Mallards bookended a difficult six-game road swing for the Aces (5-10-2), who fell 7-4 to Quad City (7-5-3) to open the trip and lost Friday to end it. The Aces went 1-4-1 on the trip, and their 0-3-1 start to the journey furnished the tail-...Doyle Woody
When freshman right winger Jeremiah Luedtke arrived at UAA this fall, head coach Matt Thomas did not coddle him. There was no talk of Luedtke slowly finding his role, or needing an adjustment period in his transition to college hockey from junior pucks, or simply chipping in a bit. After averaging just 2.06 goals per game last season, the Seawolves needed help, pronto. “He told me I was expected to produce right away,’’ Luedtke recalled. “I was nervous, but at the same time I was excited.’’ Thomas immediately slotted Luedtke at right wing with senior center Blake Tatchell, the team’s best offensive pivot. Luedtke has played on Tatchell’s right side through all 10 UAA games, delivering 1-7—8 totals and a plus-1 rating. “I didn’t think it would be this awesome,’’ Luedtke said. “It’s been...Doyle Woody
Just a few random thoughts, starting with the Alaska Aces’ 6-2 victory tonight at Evansville, which snapped a franchise-record, eight-game winless streak (0-7-1). And exhale. Granted, Evansville is the worst team in the 28-team ECHL. But the Aces’ .333 winning percentage entering the night placed them 27th. Hey, you go winless in eight straight, you don’t care who you beat, just that you actually beat someone. The Aces cranked off a season-high for goals. Garet Hunt and Tomasso Traversa bagged two each. Troy Redmann made 38 saves to snap his personal six-game winless streak (0-5-1). What the Aces really need is to cap their six-game road trip with a win Friday night at Quad City, then take some momentum into a six-game homestand – three against Evansville, three against Colorado. They...Doyle Woody
Forget that the Evansville IceMen sit last in the 28-team ECHL. Or that their offense is the circuit’s least potent. Or even that their small crowd Wednesday night at the Ford Center in Indiana – just 2,401 officially -- was hardly the stuff that buoys the home club. All that mattered to the Alaska Aces is that they won a hockey game, and they desperately needed that result. The Aces snapped their franchise-record, eight-game winless streak with a 6-2 victory sparked by two goals each from veteran winger Garet Hunt and rookie winger Tommaso Traversa, three-point performances from captain William Wrenn and Justin Breton, and 38 saves from Troy Redmann. Alaska (5-9-2) snuffed its 0-7-1 funk courtesy of its season-high for goals, a four-goal second period that furnished its most explosive 20...Doyle Woody
Anchorage’s girls high school hockey season opens Thursday with a celebration of the sport at Ben Boeke Arena, where two games will be sandwiched around a special announcement related to funding. The Scotty Gomez Foundation, headed into its third season administrating the sport as an outsourced activity in the Anchorage School District, has invited players from the area to attend. The event is free and anyone who attends has a chance to win a Scott Gomez jersey. Games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. The announcement is set for 6:30 p.m. Mandy Reale, hockey director for the Scotty Gomez Foundation, which also funds boys and girls youth hockey, said girls high school hockey costs about $100,000 per season. Reale said the foundation funded much of the two previous seasons courtesy...Doyle Woody
The Alaska Aces’ early-season suffering continued Tuesday morning, when their burden developed into a dubious distinction – a franchise-record eight-game winless streak. The Aces’ 3-1 ECHL road loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones before a large crowd of mostly screaming school children at U.S. Bank Arena, where they won the 2014 Kelly Cup, stretched their fit of futility to 0-7-1. Alaska’s struggles stumbled past the team’s previous record for most games without victory – last season’s team languished in a 0-5-2 slide and the 2009-10 team endured a 0-7-0 funk. In a game that started at 6:35 a.m. AST – most of the announced 6,084 in attendance were at the arena for an Education In Hockey Day field trip – the Aces did not score until the last minute, when it hardly mattered, save for wiping out...Doyle Woody