Woody on Hockey

Alaska is hockey heaven -- the Alaska Aces are perennial ECHL contenders, the UAA Seawolves play in the nation's premier college league and NHL star Scott Gomez headlines a contingent of pros. Join the conversation about the Aces and Alaska hockey with Doyle Woody, who has covered the game here at all levels for 29 years.

Contact: dwoody@adn.com

Here's a historically encouraging way of looking at UAA's WCHA series in Grand Forks - 10/25/2012 3:43 pm

Aces: Ambroz released (Plus, Courchaine note) - 10/25/2012 1:26 pm

Aces: Gee, those are some decent linemates Imbeault just got; plus, numbers changes - 10/25/2012 10:45 am

Aces add a defenseman in fourth-year pro Alain Goulet - 10/25/2012 9:59 am

A bunch of Alaska connections play in the Austrian League where Alexandre Imbeault began the season - 10/24/2012 5:41 pm

Man, UAA's Early Schedule Is Odd - 10/24/2012 5:07 pm

Former Aces Center Imbeault Is Now Current Aces Center Imbeault (UPDATED) - 10/24/2012 1:16 pm

North Pole's Copley Is WCHA Rookie Of The Week - 10/23/2012 12:19 pm

Aces Release Markowitz, Sign Rookie D-Man (Plus, Pro And Junior Notes)

The Alaska Aces have made a move on the back end, releasing defenseman Danny Markowitz and signing rookie blueliner Chris Haltigin, who last spring wrapped his four-year college career at RIT.

Markowitz joined the Aces last season when they plucked him out of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

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Former Aces Sniper Minard Flourishing In Germany (The German Hockey Report You Begged For! -- Or Not)

All Chris Minard does is score goals. The winger scored them in bunches in the Central Hockey League, he led the ECHL in goals for the Alaska Aces in 2004-05 (Scott Gomez was his center) and he scored a ton of them in the American Hockey League. He even played in the NHL -- albeit just two goals in 40 games.

Still, he's bagged 298 pro goals in 660 games.

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Former Aces Defenseman Benn Olson Is Making An, Um, Impression Across The Pond (Your Great Britain Hockey Report!)

Yo, Cowbell Crew, you no doubt remember defenseman Benn Olson from the 11 games he played last season for the Alaska Aces, and for the 46 penalty minutes he earned.

Well, he's playing for the Coventry Blaze in Great Britain's Elite Ice Hockey League this season, and making his presence felt.

His 124 penalty minutes in 11 games not only leads the circuit, but is more than twice as many sin-bin residency minutes as the next most frequent customer -- that dude checks in with a mere 57 minutes, so he doesn't even get his name online here.

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North Dakota Is Going To Be Seriously Short-Handed Against UAA On Friday

You hardcore college hockey fans are no doubt totally clued in on UAA's opponent Friday night in Fairbanks, but for those who are not, here's a tip: Perennial power North Dakota will be considerably short-handed for that match, which is its season opener.

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Check Out This Season's Alaska Connections In The AHL

Nearly 20 dudes in the American Hockey League this season have some sort of Alaska connections, so let's get right to it and identify those gentlemen:

Abbotsford Heat -- Former Alaska Aces (and they hope future) winger Tyler Ruegsegger.

Adirondack Phantoms -- Former Aces defenseman Zack FitzGerald.

Binghamton Senators -- Former UAA goaltender Nathan Lawson and former UAF defenseman Tyler Eckford.

Charlotte Checkers -- Winger Tim Wallace of Anchorage.

Connecticut Whale -- Former UAA winger Tommy Grant.

Grand Rapids Griffins -- Goaltender Jordan Pearce of Anchorage.

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Ward Is Aces Captain; Alaska Connections In The ECHL

Veteran defenseman Steve Ward is the captain of the Alaska Aces this season -- coach Rob Murray bestowed the "C'' upon him before last Friday's season opener.

Will have a short story on that tonight online at adn.com and Wednesday morning in the dead-trees edition of the ADN.

Until then, feast on the more than two dozen Alaska connections on ECHL rosters. The list comes from massive grinding by The Blog -- or was it simply looking up the ECHL-supplied list of rosters? Ah, either way, check it out (not listing any of the Aces because they -- duh -- all have an Alaska connection):

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Anchorage's Summerhays CCHA Goaltender Of The Week

Notre Dame junior Steve Summerhays of Anchorage has been named the CCHA's Goaltender of the Week after leading the Irish to the championship of the Ice Breaker Tournament over the weekend.

Summerhays stopped 22 shots in a 1-0 win over Maine and 28 in a 3-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha.

In his career, Summerhays is 17-12-1 with a 2.52 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and three shutouts.

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The Blog Is Back With A Rink Roundup

Greetings, puckheads -- The Blog is back from wind-swept Minnesota, drained from delightful and evidently inexhaustible nephews, but determined to soldier on, so he's trying to catch with a few notes from over the weekend, which was pretty much the start of pucks in these parts and many locations elsewhere. (By the way, the bartender at the wedding reception The Blog hit was former St. Cloud State and Tacoma Sabercats goaltender Brian Leitza, who played against UAA in the WCHA and the old Anchorage Aces of the now-defunct WCHL -- yes, hockey is a small world).

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Exhibition Pucks: Las Vegas 4, Aces 2 (And The Blog Is Going Dark For A Spell)

The Las Vegas Wranglers beat the Alaska Aces 4-2 tonight to split the two-game exhibition series at Sullivan Arena.

NHLer Nate Thompson scored Alaska's first goal and Tommy Mele scored for the second straight night. James Reid made 26 saves for Alaska, which opens the ECHL regular season with games Friday and Saturday at Colorado.

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Las Vegas' Madill Suspended For Tonight's Exhibition Game With Aces (Notes)

Las Vegas captain Mike Madill, who received a match penalty for his hit on Alaska Aces rookie Tim Hall in Monday night's 3-2 Aces exhibition victory has been suspended for one game by the ECHL and will sit out tonight's preseason series finale.

Just so you know -- Madill's hit was out of character for him. That's not his MO. In five full ECHL seasons, he has never collected more than 60 penalty minutes, and The Blog's impression of him over the years is he is an earnest, clean player.

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Aces Update: Morning Skate

Here are some Alaska Aces who didn't play in Monday night's 3-2 exhibition win over Las Vegas but will be in coach Rob Murray's lineup Tuesday night, according to the bench boss:

NHLer Nate Thompson, and returning defensemen Steve Ward and Kane Lafranchise, and returning forwards Garry Nunn and Jordan Kremyr.

Murray after the morning skate said NHLers Brandon Dubinsky and Joey Crabb, who played on a line together Monday, will both get the night off.

Starting in goal will be returner James Reid.

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Exhibition Hockey: Aces 3, Las Vegas 2

We'll be quick about this tonight -- the Alaska Aces racked a 3-2 exhibition victory over the Las Vegas Wranglers on the pink ice at Sullivan Arena.

Returner Danny Markowitz and newcomer Tommy Mele each furnished one goal and one assist, and new goaltender Mark Guggenberger debuted with 26 saves. Returning center Zach Harrison was very good -- an assist and excellent penalty killing.

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Alaska Connections Abounded In The Other ECHL Exhibition Game Tonight

Sitting here at Sullivan Arena before the Alaska Aces-Las Vegas Wranglers exhibition game tonight, couldn't help but notice the other preseason game in the ECHL tonight had the fingerprints of Alaska connections all over it.

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So, How Will The Aces' NHLers Be Treated By The Rest Of The ECHL?

Brandon Dubinsky, Nate Thompson and Joey Crabb -- all from Anchorage and the three NHLers playing for the Alaska Aces during the NHL (No Hockey League) lockout -- can all take care of themselves.

Dubinsky, for instance, has fought 25 times in 393 career NHL regular-season games, and fought eight times in 71 games in the American Hockey League. Crabb has dropped the mitts four times in 144 NHL games, and thrown down 12 times in 299 AHL games. Thompson checks in with 13 fights in 265 NHL games and 23 fights in 216 AHL games (all that data courtesy of hockeyfights.com).

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Dubinsky Says He's In Full-Time With Aces (UPDATED)

NHLer Brandon Dubinsky of Anchorage will join the Alaska Aces full-time, the club announced Monday morning, giving the team three NHL players.

Dubinsky joins Joey Crabb and Nate Thompson, who are likewise from Anchorage and likewise landed with the Aces because of the NHL lockout.

"It's easy to be home, close to family,'' Dubinsky said after the Aces' morning skate. "You don't really get this opportunity too many times, to play in front of your family.''

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Aces: NHLer Dubinsky Will Play In Monday Night's Exhibition Game At Sullivan

Alaska Aces coach Rob Murray today said NHL skater Brandon Dubinsky of Anchorage will play for the club Monday night, when it entertains the Las Vegas Wranglers in an exhibition game at Sullivan Arena.

Dubinsky is on a tryout agreement and that permits him to play exhibition games. If he wanted to join the Aces full-time for the regular season, he would have to sign a standard ECHL contract.

In any event, Murray said Dubinsky will center an all-veteran line with left wing Matt Robinson and right wing Joey Crabb, the NHLer from Anchorage who has signed an ECHL deal with the club.

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UAA 3, Regina 1 (exhibition)

UAA made its season debut tonight here at the McDonald Center in Eagle River -- OK, it was an exhibition, things get real next week -- and looked decent enough in a 3-1 win over the University of Regina, which was fresh off a 6-0 loss to UAF in Fairbanks on Friday night.

Hard to tell much with these exhibitions. The Seawolves looked neither awesome nor awful, which is to be expected in any kind of opener.

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Things Are Looking Good At Sullivan Arena (Quick Update)

Kind of pressed for time this afternoon before heading to Palmer for a high school football playoff game, so here's the latest on Sullivan Arena: Looks good for making ice.

Joe Wooden, regional general manager for SMG, which operates the arena, told The Blog a bit ago that he expects workers to start flooding the ice, likely in the next hour or so.

Wooden said the concrete slab on which the ice is made has been slowly cooled down to 20 degrees, which allows workers to begin flooding the rink -- apparently, that begins with a process known in the biz as "slushing the corners.''

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Former UAA Blueliner Vidmar Gets A New Gig (Also, Former UAA Center Crowder Signs In Wheeling)

Former UAA defenseman Luka Vidmar, who spent most of last season with ECHL Colorado, has a new gig in that league -- he's hooked up with the South Carolina Stingrays.

Vidmar last season posted 3-18--21 and +15 totals in 58 games with the Colorado Eagles. He played three games before that with Las Vegas.

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Aces: D-Man Wrenn Headed Back From Worcester

Rookie defenseman William Wrenn of Anchorage was released from training camp by AHL Worcester on Thursday, which means he should hook up with the Alaska Aces in plenty of time for exhibition games Monday and Tuesday nights against the Las Vegas Wranglers.

The Aces previously signed the San Jose Sharks second-round draft pick to a contract, and it looks like he'll start his play-for-pay career with his hometown club.

Also, former UAF defenseman Joe Sova was released from AHL camp by the Charlotte Checkers and is headed to ECHL Florida, the defending Kelly Cup champ.

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