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ACES NOTEBOOK: Mazzolini pockets scoring records

Doyle Woody
Jeff Swinger

CINCINNATI -- With his assist on Turner Elson's late insurance goal Saturday in the Alaska Aces' 4-2 win over Cincinnati in Game 5 of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals, Aces captain Nick Mazzolini broke club records for most playoff assists and points, eclipsing Josh Soares' 2009 marks.

Mazzolini leads all league scorers with 10-19--29 totals in 20 games. Soares in 21 games in 2009 put up 10-18--28 totals. Mazzolini's helper Saturday also snapped his three-game point drought.

On the road again?

It probably isn't lost on Aces fans that the club won its previous two Cups on the road - in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2011, and in Gwinnett, Ga., in 2006.

Power-play outage

The Aces won Game 6 in large part with exceptional penalty-killing against a Cyclones power play that moves the puck tremendously well and runs a slew of back-door plays.

Curiously, Cincinnati's power play has converted at just 13.3 percent in the playoffs and 14.3 percent (3 for 21) against the Aces.

Anyhow, Alaska killed four Cincinnati power plays in the first period alone. It wasn't so much playing with fire -- the Cyclones had the man advantage for 7 minutes, 28 seconds, out of 20 minutes -- as playing with a flame thrower. Alaska killed all seven Cyclones power plays after giving up two power-play goals on three Cincinnati chances in Friday's 3-1 loss in Game 4.

That time of year

Playoff hockey is nothing if not a little nasty. Take the first period Saturday, when Cincinnati forward Trevor Lewis slashed Alaska defenseman Zach McKelvie on the hands during a Cyclones power play. Mazzolini returned the favor, using his stick to give Lewis a whack across the lower back.

Details matter

Aces center Jordan Morrison's goal and assist Saturday were each pivotal, but he also made several little plays that don't show up in the stats but make a difference.

One such moment came with the Aces killing a penalty in the second period. Morrison won a race to the puck along the wall at the Aces' blue line and could have chipped it out to neutral ice. Instead, he worked it back to his defense, which ragged the puck to kill time before sending it the length of the ice.

Impact rookie

Since being inserted into the lineup in Game 3, a 2-0 Aces' win in Anchorage, Aces All-Rookie defenseman Brad Richard has generated one goal, Saturday's game-winning strike off Morrison's feed, and one assist.

He made several excellent plays and one big mistake, the latter coming on Lewis' rebound goal at the edge of the crease in the second period to furnish the Cyclones a 2-1 lead.

"That's a young defenseman,'' said Aces assistant coach Louis Mass, who runs the defense. "He's still working on consistency, but his goal was huge.

"That goal against, that was his guy. I told him on the bench, 'You're gonna get that one back.' You always want to stay positive with young guys.''

Shoot to win

The Aces have outshot playoff opponents in all 20 games, and there's another startling stat within that one: In more than one-third of their postseason periods in regulation -- 21 of 60, or 35 percent -- the Aces have outshot their opponent by at least a 2-to-1 margin.

The plus side

Mazzolini leads the league in plus-minus with a plus-14 rating in 20 games. Aces winger Brendan Connolly, who has four assists in four Finals games, is second at plus-13 in 18 games.

Cincinnati defenseman Chris Reed is third -- he's plus-12 in 23 games. Aces blueliner Kane Lafranchise is fourth with a plus-11 rating in 14 games. And Aces defensemen Sean Curry and John Ramage are tied for fifth -- both are plus-10 in 19 games.

Suspension over

Ramage is eligible to return for Game 6 after he was suspended from Game 5 for elbowing Cincinnati sniper Josh Shalla in the head in Game 4. Shalla sat out Game 5.

Day at the ballpark

Aces equipment manager Mike Burkhead, defenseman Zach Davies and goalie Rob Gunderson are all clearly men of sporting leisure. All three made it to the Cincinnati Reds' 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park on Sunday.

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


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com