The Alaska Aces will not lack great goaltending when they open the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs on Friday night.
The Brabham Cup winners as regular-season champions already had Gerald Coleman on board -- he backstopped them to the 2011 Kelly Cup.
And Monday brought word that the NHL's Calgary Flames assigned Olivier Roy to the Aces from Abbotsford of the American Hockey League -- Roy last season backstopped the Stockton Thunder to the Kelly Cup Finals.
Aces coach Rob Murray knew rookie Aaron Crandall, Coleman's backup of late, needed to return to Minnesota-Duluth to finish academic work, and Alaska needed another goalie for the postseason. An inquiry about Connor Knapp, who the Buffalo Sabres briefly assigned to the Aces this season and last week made his NHL debut, wasn't promising, Murray said. He didn't expect to get Roy back, but figured he an inquiry wouldn't hurt, so he said he put in a call last Friday to Michael Holditch, Calgary's senior vice president and assistant general manager.
Turned out due diligence delivered for the Aces. Murray said he spoke with Holditch again Saturday and got the news Roy would return to Alaska.
"The timing is excellent,'' Murray said Monday. "To be quite honest, up until my conversation with Calgary on Friday, I didn't expect Roy to be back.
"Realistically, the situation with Knapp didn't look promising, so we would have had to use an E-bug (emergency backup goaltender). Any time you can have two great goaltenders for the playoffs, it's good. (Goaltending) is one of the most important things in the playoffs, if not the most important thing.''
Coleman, who shut out Colorado on Friday in his regular season finale, went 14-6-5 in the regular season with a 2.39 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts. Roy for the Aces went 13-7-0, 2.10 and .922, with four shutouts.
Roy had been with Abbotsford since late January.
Murray on Monday also submitted his 23-man playoff roster to the ECHL. He listed 12 forwards, nine defensemen and the two goalies, Coleman and Roy.
Murray included blueliners Kane Lafranchise, who has been with Abbotsford most of the season, and rookie Zach Davies, who has been with the Heat for more than a month. Abbotsford, which has clinched a Calder Cup playoff spot, currently lists 11 defensemen on its roster with three games remaining in its regular season, which wraps this weekend.
The way Murray figures it, defensemen are at a premium, particularly for a club like Alaska that builds from the net out to defense -- the Aces led the league in team defense. Also, if the need arises, it is easier to move a defenseman up to wing than to move a forward back to the blue line. Also, Aces defenseman Zach McKelvie played forward for Abbotsford this season.
The Aces released Crandall and defenseman Dustin Molle of Anchorage.
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THE ACES' CREW FOR THE KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS
Forwards (12) - Nick Mazzolini, Peter Sivak, Brendan Connolly, Evan Trupp, Jordan Morrison, Brett Findlay, Tyler Mosienko, Turner Elson, Andy Taranto, Alex Belzile, Ross Ring-Jarvi, Tommy Mele.
Defense (9) - Corey Syvret, Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, James Martin, Zach McKelvie, John Ramage, Sean Curry, Kane Lafranchise, Zach Davies.
Goaltenders (2) - Gerald Coleman, Olivier Roy.
GAME 1: The best-of-7, ECHL series between the Alaska Aces and Las Vegas Wranglers is 7:15 p.m. Friday at Sullivan Arena.
By DOYLE WOODY