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Alaska goalie Coleman remains a rink rat

Doyle Woody
Jeff Swinger

CINCINNATI -- Most goaltenders make short work of the morning skate when they are scheduled to start that evening's hockey game -- get in a little work to feel the puck, get off the ice and get gone. Aces goalie Gerald Coleman is not among them.

Gerald Coleman lingers.

Late Saturday morning, nine hours before Coleman and the Alaska Aces stamped a 4-2 victory on the Cincinnati Cyclones to push themselves to the verge of seizing the ECHL's Kelly Cup, Coleman was among the last players on the ice at U.S. Bank Arena.

After teammates who would play Saturday night left the ice, Coleman remained alone at one end of the rink. He gathered two small collections of pucks in the trapezoid behind the net, one pile just behind the post to his left, the other behind the post to his right. He stationed himself in the crease, over and over again, ranged behind one side of his net and then the other, softly shooting a puck off the end boards or directing one up the sideboards.

That was Coleman running through his checklist, reminding himself of scenarios in which he might play the puck to aid his defensemen and help stifle Cincinnati's forecheck.

"It helps me mentally prepare for games, for situations,'' Coleman said later that evening, after making 28 saves. "So, if a situation comes about, I know what to do.''

At the other end of the practice ice Saturday morning, as the players who would not be scratches took shots on back-up goaltender Rob Gunderson, Coleman repaired to the spot in front of the time-keeper's box and watched, occasionally propping his 6-foot-5 frame atop the butt end of his goal stick.

"I'm never in any rush,'' he said later that evening. "It's more like enjoying it, taking it in, watching the guys have fun.''

The Aces, who own a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Finals, used Sunday as a rest day, taking a break before Monday's Game 6, when they can earn the third Cup in the franchise's 11 ECHL seasons. A Cyclones win would force Game 7 Wednesday night in Anchorage, which would come after the teams endured a travel day from hell Tuesday.

Coleman, who backed the Aces to the 2011 Cup, is 9-4, with a league-leading 1.43 goals-against average and a .938 save percent that ranks second among goalies who have played significant postseason minutes. Still, he savors victories more than personal stats.

"Monday, we win 20-19, I don't care,'' he said. "A win is a win.''

And, actually, he wouldn't mind hearing more chants of "Coleman, you suck,'' from the Cincinnati partisans.

"The whole crowd getting into it means I'm doing something right,'' Coleman said.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog and follow his live tweets from every Kelly Cup Finals game @sportsadn

2014 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals

Alaska Aces vs. Cincinnati Cyclones

Best of 7 series

Aces lead 3-2

Game 6, Monday, 3:35 p.m. ADT, Cincinnati, U.S. Bank Arena

Radio: Live, AM-550 and FM 103.7 KFQD

TV: Live, GCI Channel 1

ALASKA Aces

at

cincinnati cyclones

2014 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals

Best-of-7 series

Aces lead 3-2

GAME 6: MONDAY, 3:35 P.M. ADT, CINCINNATI, U.S. BANK ARENA

RADIO: LIVE, AM-550 AND FM 103.7 KFQD

TV: LIVE, GCI CHANNEL 1

 


By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News