With their playoff prospects trending from improbable toward impossible, the Alaska Aces have limped into Colorado for the second of three three-game series in a season-long, nine-game road trip.
The Aces in their last seven ECHL games have lost four players to injury, including three principal skaters. The latest three casualties are defensemen, which has damaged the team's depth.
Rookie defenseman Mitch Jones on Saturday against Rapid City suffered two broken bones in his leg. Aces coach Rob Murray on Tuesday said Jones underwent surgery Sunday in South Dakota and is out for the season.
One night earlier in Rapid City, captain William Wrenn suffered an upper-body injury. That has sidelined the team's best defenseman for two games and Murray said Wrenn will miss at least two more games. The earliest Wrenn is likely to play is Saturday in the finale of a series against the Colorado Eagles, Murray said.
Alaska, which has gone 4-9-0 in the last month, earlier in February lost its first-line center, Tim Coffman, to a severe, long-term groin injury, and defenseman Daniel Johnston to a shoulder injury that may end his season.
Jones' injury left Murray with five healthy defensemen, one shy of the number of blueliners customarily in the lineup, in Sunday's 3-1 series-closing loss at Rapid City.
Meanwhile, the Aces, who began their trip nine points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, remain nine points out after losing two of three games at Rapid City. They are tied for 12th in the 14-team conference and would have to leapfrog past five teams to make the postseason, and that's nearly inconceivable with 20 games remaining in the regular season.
Alaska's situation on the blue line could have been worse, but it signed rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Levesque last week after the conclusion of his Canadian college career.
Murray on Tuesday picked up rookie defenseman Zach Sarig off waivers from the Atlanta Gladiators. Sarig is scheduled to join the Aces in time to play Friday, Murray said, so the club will go with five defensemen in Wednesday's series opener, just as it did in Sunday.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 5:05 p.m. AST
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