The evening after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake shook Southcentral, the Alaska Aces had Sullivan Arena rocking in response to a huge scuffle, and more importantly, a 3-2 ECHL win Sunday over the Idaho Steelheads.
A series of small scrums throughout the game culminated in a brawl in front of Idaho's bench with 1:30 left to play and the Aces up a goal. Several players were involved, and Alaska's Tim Coffman and Patrick Wellar drew misconduct penalties along with Idaho's Shawn Boutin.
"We're obviously two teams that love to win, and it showed at the end," said Alaska left winger Anthony Deluca, who scored the Aces' game-clinching third goal. "They weren't taking it that they were going dow,n and I think we stood up for ourselves.
"Tempers were flaring, and I guess gloves went down. We just have a lot of character like them, and things gotta go down sometimes."
After several minutes of deliberation by the officials, the penalties canceled each other out and the Aces (16-20-5) held off the Steelheads for the final two minutes to end the three-game series with a win. Idaho (19-18-5) won the first two games of the series Friday and Saturday.
The win has Alaska earning points again after Idaho halted the Aces' seven-game point streak Friday.
"We knew we played three great games and those first two games could have gone either way, so we're just happy to come out with a win and get two points," Deluca said. "Every point counts toward playoffs and obviously you want to take it game by game, but the third game — we really needed this."
Idaho took the early lead in the first period on an Emil Molin power-play goal just under four minutes into the contest. It was Molin's third goal and fourth point against the Aces in three games.
Alaska responded midway through the period with winger Justin Breton's 15th goal of the season.
Defenseman William Wrenn found an open Breton with a quick pass across the net from the right wing and Breton put in the easy goal against his old college buddy, Idaho goaltender Branden Komm. Breton and Komm played together at Bentley University.
Less than three minutes later, the Aces took the lead on a Stephen Perfetto goal assisted by Garet Hunt and Wrenn.
The Aces took the 2-1 advantage into the second period. Deluca's eventual game-winner came in the 16th minute when he curled into the slot out of the right circle and wristed a clean shot past Komm.
Even with the lead, the Aces outshot the Steelheads in the second and third periods and ended the game with a 38-28 advantage in shots on goal.
"We haven't got much production from our top line in these three games and a couple other guys stepped up tonight with Deluca and Breton, Perfetto," Aces coach Rob Murray said. "You gotta spread the wealth and when you're top guys aren't going, other guys gotta pick it up."
Idaho rallied with a third-period goal from Joe Basaraba, his first as a Steelhead, but couldn't complete the comeback.
The Steelheads went with newcomer Komm in the net, where he finished with 35 saves. It was his first start for Idaho since he was acquired Wednesday from the South Carolina Stingrays.
Komm started at goaltender in place of Jack Campbell, who had 71 saves while only allowing one goal through the first two games of the series.
For the Aces, goaltender Troy Redmann stopped 26 pucks.
Following the win, the Aces have four days to rest and prepare for a road stint beginning Friday against the Colorado Eagles in Loveland, Colorado.
"We should feel really good about going on the road and the way that we had that (last) road trip down south," Murray said. "Just nice to come off a win going into a week of practice before we go off to Colorado."
Idaho 1 0 1 — 2
Aces 2 1 0 — 3
First Period — 1, Idaho, Molin 17 (Linsmayer, Dahl), 3:42 (pp); 2, Aces, Breton 15 (Wrenn, Perfetto), 12:19; 3, Perfetto 8 (Hunt, Wrenn), 15:09. Penalties ?— Valcourt, Aces (slashing), 3:21; Rutt, Idaho (slashing), 5:05; Rutt, Idaho (slashing), 17:26.
Second Period — 4, Aces, Deluca 4 (Traversa, Lake), 15:52. Penalties — Hunt, Aces (slashing), 8:47; Troock, Idaho (roughing), 18:45; Traversa, Aces (roughing), 18:45.
Third Period — 5, Idaho, Basaraba 1 (Linsmayer, Jean), 18:03. Penalties — Boutin, Aces, minor-misconduct (roughing), 18:31; Linsmayer, Idaho, double-minor (roughing), 18:31; Coffman, Aces (misconduct), 18:31; Valcourt, Aces, double-minor (roughing), 18:31; Wellar, Aces, minor-misconduct (roughing), 18:31.
Shots on goal — Idaho 10-12-6—28. Aces 16-13-9—38.
Power-play Opportunities ?— Idaho 1 of 2. Aces 0 of 2.
Goalies — Idaho, Komm, 6-3-0 (38 shots-35 saves). Aces, Redmann, 12-14-4 (28 shots-26 saves).
A — 3,428. T — 2:30.
Referees — Frederic Leblanc. Linesmen ?— Josh Ellis, Travis Jackson.