Sports

Aces sign 2 forwards, one a well-traveled pro, the other a rookie

What Shane Heffernan might offer the Alaska Aces on the ice is anyone's guess -- he has never played hockey at a level as high as the ECHL -- but he is almost certain to lead the club's training-camp crew in one category: Passport stamps.

Heffernan, a Canadian, in the last four seasons has played in the U.S., Norway, Germany, Latvia, Slovakia, Belarus and Sweden.

He was one of two forwards the Alaska Aces on Thursday announced they have signed for the upcoming season. The reigning ECHL champs also said they have signed rookie forward Justin Breton, who last spring closed a four-year career at Division I Bentley University, which plays in the Atlantic Hockey conference.

Aces coach Rob Murray said Heffernan, 26, has been on his radar for several seasons, courtesy of a tip from Geoff Ward, who was then a Boston Bruins assistant coach. Murray said Ward told him he had Heffernan in a hockey camp and Heffernan possessed superior speed.

Otherwise, not much is known about Heffernan, a 5-foot-11, 181-pounder whose North American pro experience is limited to the now-defunct All American Hockey League and the Federal Hockey League. Those leagues are basically the lowest rung on the pro hockey ladder in North America.

"Basically, it's a 'Let's see what you've got' deal,'' Murray said. "Is it a flyer? I don't know. He's got some experience and he's played in pro leagues, so we'll see.''

Breton, 25, last season earned 6-10—16 totals in 35 games with Bentley and collected 27-38—65 totals in 140 career games with the Falcons. The 6-1, 195-pounder scored a career-high 13 goals as a junior, when he also bagged a career-high 21 points in 32 games.

Murray said he received good reports on Breton last week when he and assistant coach Louis Mass were in Michigan attending an NHL rookie tournament. Murray and Mass also spent time with representatives from the NHL's St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild, the Aces' two affiliates.

"He's got good size,'' Murray said of Breton. "I got some scouting reports from St. Louis people who liked him, said he was a good skater, uses his body.''

The Aces have announced the signings of 12 players and also the addition of rookie winger Greg Wolfe, a former Michigan State captain who led the Spartans in scoring last season. Wolfe's rights were acquired in a recent trade.

Alaska has two exhibition games scheduled against the expansion Indy Ice at Sullivan Arena on Oct. 7-8. Those are the club's annual "Paint The Rink Pink'' games that benefit the local fight against breast cancer. The Aces open the regular season Oct. 17, when they entertain the Ontario Reign in the opener of a three-game series.

Reach reporter Doyle Woody at dwoody@alaskadispatch.com and check out his blog at adn.com/hockey-blog

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