Aces back in familiar position

The three-time defending Brabham Cup champion Alaska Aces find themselves in a familiar position nearly a month into the 2013-14 ECHL regular season. Alaska, which had a nine-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, leads the Mountain Division with a 9-2-0 record for 18 points, giving the Aces the second-most points in the league, just two points behind South Carolina.


Alaska, which has won an ECHL record four Brabham Cup championships, has won its division title in four of the last five seasons, and in seven of its 10 ECHL seasons.


The Aces opened a three-game series in Idaho last Wednesday with a 3-0 win over the Steelheads. After a scoreless first period, Alaska seized control of the game with a three-goal spurt in less than a seven-minute span in the second period. Shawn Skelly, Andy Taranto and Nick Mazzolini found the back of the net and Mark Guggenberger turned aside all 21 shots he faced to record the shutout.


Wednesday’s win was the Aces third consecutive shutout, tying the ECHL record, and the club entered Friday’s game within range of the league record for longest shutout sequence. Alaska found itself just shy of setting a new standard, however, as Idaho scored 7:46 into the opening period on Friday, leaving the Aces just eight minutes short of the record.


It was just a minor roadblock though for Alaska as the Aces went on to win Friday’s game by a 5-2 score. Five different Aces tallied in the win, and Guggenberger earned the win with 26 saves on 28 Idaho shots.


The Aces winning streak came to an end in the series finale on Saturday, as the Steelheads skated away with a 4-2 win. Evan Trupp scored both of Alaska’s goals, and his second goal brought Alaska to within a goal with 3:01 remaining in regulation, but Idaho tallied just 14 seconds later to set the final score.


Alaska’s nine straight wins fell just two shy of the team’s all-time record, an 11-game winning streak from Nov. 11-Dec. 10, 2005.


Veteran Peter Sivak has keyed the Aces’ offense this season as he leads the ECHL in both assists (16) and points (22). Tim Coffman, the ECHL Rookie of the Month for October, ranks second among all first-year players with 13 points (5g-8a). Coffman is tied for fifth overall in the league in points with Trupp, who has six goals and seven assists on the season.


The Aces return to Anchorage this weekend for their only three home games in a 14-game stretch as the Las Vegas Wranglers are at Sullivan Arena for games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.