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Mosienko line ready as Aces gear up for Idaho series

Doyle Woody

In 51 regular-season games for the Alaska Aces, Evan Trupp averaged a point per night and never went more than three consecutive games without furnishing a point.

In 25 regular-season games since joining the club from Europe, Tyler Mosienko was good for nearly a point per game and likewise never endured more than three straight games without getting on the scoresheet.

Yet both Trupp, a left wing, and his center, Mosienko, drew blanks in the Aces' opening-round, four-game sweep of the Las Vegas Wranglers in the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoffs.

In outscoring the Wranglers 16-5, the Aces received seven goals from captain Nick Mazzolini's line. Defensemen delivered six goals. And center Jordan Morrison's line chipped in three goals.

The only point from Mosienko's line was an assist from right wing Turner Elson.

Still, as the Aces prepare to open their Western Conference semifinal series Thursday night against the Idaho Steelheads at Sullivan Arena, coach Rob Murray said he's not sweating the early postseason drought from Mosienko's line.

Elson, Mosienko and Trupp combined for 29 shots on goal, so they enjoyed opportunities. All three finished the opening round with plus-1 ratings, so they were responsible on defense. And they drew some penalties.

"They played really well,'' Murray said. "I don't have any issues or worries about that. It's just a matter of time -- it'll come.

"They weren't on the scoresheet, but that line was very good defensively.''

Trupp in the regular season racked up 17-33--50 totals and a plus-16 rating in 51 games. Mosienko struggled to score goals, but earned 3-17--20 totals and a plus-11 rating in 25 games.

Trupp, who closed the regular season with a six-game point streak (3-7--10) and at least a point in eight of the last nine games (5-9--14), believes his line played well against the Wranglers, but simply didn't get rewarded.

"We felt pretty dominant, even down there (in Las Vegas),'' Trupp said. "It wasn't for lack of effort. The goalie (Travis Fullerton) made some good saves, but at the same time, we've got to bear down on our chances.''

Mosienko suffered through a goal drought late in the regular season -- no goals in the last 14 games, though he did contribute 11 assists -- and has not scored a goal in the last 18 games.

"I'm not here to not score points,'' Mosienko said. "It's an issue to myself, personally.

"It's playoff hockey and it's not about points. We got four wins and that's what counts. But in this (Idaho) series, you've got to find a way to get on the (scoresheet).''

Mazzolini, who leads the league in playoff points with 10 and combined with wingers Peter Sivak and Brendan Connolly for 7-16--23 totals in four games against the Wranglers, believes Mosienko's line will bounce back soon. If opponents try to shut down his line, Mazzolini said, the Aces are likely to get scoring from other lines, as they did throughout the regular season.

"You can't key on one line,'' Mazzolini said. "You have to respect the entire lineup.''

Shuffling the deck

Murray at Wednesday's practice was still uncertain if Elson's lower-body injury was healed enough to permit him to play in the series opener.

Tommy Mele practiced in Elson's spot on Mosienko's line. Defenseman Zach McKelvie, who played wing for Abbotsford of the American Hockey League this season, practiced at forward.

Murray said Gerald Coleman will start in net in the series opener.

Mazzolini, Sivak, Connolly and defenseman Drew MacKenzie all carry four-game point streaks into the series.

Idaho's David de Kastrozza, who scored the game-winning goal in the longest game in league history Monday night when the Steelheads eliminated Colorado, 3-2, in quadruple overtime of Game 6, led his club in first-round scoring with 4-2--6 totals.

Steelheads goalie Josh Robinson, who stopped a league record-tying 83 shots in that marathon, in the first round went 3-2 with a 1.44 goals-against average and .959 save percentage.

Idaho converted once on 14 power-play chances in the opening round.

Former UAA winger Tommy Grant missed the last five games with an injury.

The Steelheads also include ECHL Rookie of the Year William Rapuzzi, a winger from Anchorage, and former Aces defenseman Russ Sinkewich.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog

ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs

Western Conference semifinals

Best of 7

Idaho Steelheads

at

Alaska Aces

Game 1, Thursday night, Sullivan Arena, 7:15 p.m.

Radio: AM-750 and FM-103.7 KFQD


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com