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: Lafranchise, Kremyr Return

The Alaska Aces welcomed another couple of returning players today when they announced the signings of defenseman Kane Lafranchise and winger Jordan Kremyr for the upcoming season.

That brings to five the number of players, all returners, revealed for 2012-13 – previously announced were goaltender Gerald Coleman, last season’s leading scorer in winger Dan Kissel and scoring center Nick Mazzolini.

Lafranchise and Kremyr were both regulars as rookies last season, when the Aces racked their second straight ECHL Brabham Cup as regular-season champions.

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Alev Kelter, Jordan Smelker Headed to USA Hockey Women's National Festival

A couple of local skaters, defenseman Alev Kelter of Eagle River and forward Jordan Smelker of Anchorage, are among 51 players named to USA Hockey's Over-18 roster at the 2012 Women's National Festival, set for Aug. 5-13 in Blaine, Minn.

The players will be divided into teams -- as will players on an Over-18 roster -- for daily games and practices and eventually will be winnowed down to one roster of players for a U-18 series against Canada in Blaine.

Kelter last season as a junior at Wisconsin in 28 games earned 1-9--10 totals and a +18 rating. She also plays soccer for the Badgers.

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Former Aces Bench Boss Payne Gets Assistant Coaching Gig With Kings

Looks like former Alaska Aces bench boss Davis Payne, who led them to the 2006 Kelly Cup, has landed quite nicely after being fired as head coach of the St. Louis Blues last season.

Payne is going to be an assistant coach with the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and you can read about it here.

Good for him and his family.

This news puts two former Aces head coaches behind NHL benches -- former coach Brent Thompson was named to the New York Islanders staff earlier this summer.

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Aces: Mazz Is Back

The Alaska Aces’ initial announcements of signings for the upcoming season have focused on some of their biggest contributors from last season, and that trend continued today when the ECHL club announced forward Nick Mazzolini of Anchorage will return.

Mazzolini, 27, last season finished third among Aces in goals and points, and first in assists, with 21-35—56 totals in 69 games. His plus-16 rating was second on the team and tops among forwards.

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Couple Quick Notes (Langkow, McBride)

Former Alaska Aces center Chris Langkow has signed with ECHL Reading -- he was the "future considerations'' in last season's deal that sent center Ethan Cox to Reading in exchange for forward Ryan Cruthers.

Cruthers has already signed with the expansion Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL.

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Looks Like Dubinsky Is Now A Blue Jacket

The long drama of where Columbus Blue Jackets sniper Rich Nash, a former No. 1 overall pick, would end up after he made it known he wanted out of Ohio, appears to have ended up changing the career of Anchorage center Brandon Dubinsky today.

Multiple outlets report Columbus has traded Nash to the New York Rangers in exchange for Dubinsky, forward Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixson and a first-round draft pick in 2013. The Rangers also receive defenseman Steven Delisle and a conditional third-round pick.

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Aces: Kissel Is Signed For The Upcoming Season

Having announced the signing of elite and returning goaltender Gerald Coleman last week, the Alaska Aces today revealed they have a returning sniper under contract for the upcoming season.

Winger Dan Kissel will return for his third season with the ECHL club.

Kissel, 25, last season led the Aces in scoring and tied with teammate (now retired) Wes Goldie for second in the league in goals with 35-33—68 totals in 70 games. Kissel also played two games up in the AHL.

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Anchorage Winger Wallace Gets 1-Year, 2-Way Deal With Carolina

Winger Tim Wallace of Anchorage, who last season doubled the number of NHL games he had played in three previous seasons, has signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Carolina Hurricanes -- the Associated Press pegs his salary at $700,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.

Wallace, 27, is headed to his fourth NHL organization. The Notre Dame grad started with Pittsburgh, then went to the New York Islanders and ended last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning after they picked him up on waivers.

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Former Aces Sniper Minard Headed Abroad

Former Alaska Aces sniper Chris Minard, who led the ECHL in goals in 2004-05 and helped the club to the Kelly Cup in 2006, is headed across the pond.

According to eliteprospects.com, Minard, 30, will play the upcoming season for Kolner Haie in Germany's DEL.

Minard, who played 40 NHL games (Pittsburgh and Edmonton), is a five-time 20-goal scorer, and two-time 30-goal scorer, in the AHL. Last season, coming back from extended time off the ice because of a concussion, he racked 21-11--32 totals in 39 games with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

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Aces Update: Cruthers, Shelgren Won't Be Back; They've Signed Elsewhere

With the Alaska Aces set to announce another signing later this week, we know it won't be center Ryan Cruthers, a trade-deadline acquisition last spring, or rookie defenseman Brock Shelgren -- those two have signed with other ECHL clubs.

The expansion Orlando Solar Bears have announced Cruthers as their first signing. The Greenville Road Warriors announced they have agreed to a deal with Shelgren, who joined the Aces late last season from Michigan State.

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Former UAA Goalie Lawson Gets A New Deal, And A New Boss (UPDATED)

Former UAA goaltender Nathan Lawson has agreed to a new one-year, two-way deal that sends him to the third NHL organization of his career.

Lawson, 28, has a gig with the Ottawa Senators, which likely means he'll be playing for the AHL's Binghamton Senators. Lawson previously was under contract to NHL Montreal and NHL New York Islanders.

Lawson last season for AHL Hamilton went 19-17-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and five shutouts. He's played 10 NHL games -- all for the Isles -- and is entering his sixth pro season.

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Anchorage Goalie Schierhorn Named To USA Hockey U-17 Select Team

Good offseason news -- like there's really an offseason -- for goaltender Eric Schierhorn of Anchorage.

Schierhorn, 16, today was one of two goalies named to USA Hockey's U-17 Select Team for the Five Nations Tournament next month in the Czech Republic.

Schierhorn and the other 19 guys were picked after their play in the Select 16 Player Development Camp, which wrapped today in Rochester, N.Y. At camp, Schierhorn played in six games, and went 2-0-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .889 save percentage.

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Aces Welcome Back Goaltender Gerald Coleman

Well, today marked the start of the Alaska Aces’ signing announcements, and the ECHL club got off to a pretty decent beginning – they’ve secured goaltender Gerald Coleman, who is quite good.

One caveat: Coleman won’t be ready for the start of the season because he is still healing and rehabbing from surgery on his left hip in late May. The arthroscopic procedure repaired a torn labrum and removed some bone spurs. He anticipates being back by Thanksgiving at the latest.

Puckheads no doubt recall all Coleman has done for the Aces in the last two seasons is, well, kill it.

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Eagle River's Bagron Headed Across The Pond (Soares, Eckford Notes)

Center Bill Bagron of Eagle River, who delivered 27 goals for the ECHL's Ontario Reign last season, has decided to make his first foray into Europe.

Bagron, 30, has signed with the Dundee Stars in the Great Britain-based EIHL.

Bagron last season tied for the ECHL lead in short-handed goals (5), and finished second for Ontario in goals and third in points with 27-23--50 totals in a team-high 70 games.

In other Alaska-connected news, former Alaska Aces sniper Josh Soares, who played last season in Sweden, is headed to Austria to skate for the Vienna Capitals.

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Beagle Gets A (Salary) Bump; Notes On Former Aces

Good for Jay Beagle -- the former UAA center snagged a three-year, $2.7 million deal from the Washington Capitals.

Beagle, 26, will make $900,000 per season, an upgrade from the $525,000 he made for the Caps last season, when he put up 4-1--5 totals in 41 games after returning from a concussion suffered in a fight at season's start.

In other signing news, some former Alaska Aces enforcers are on the move in the American Hockey League.

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Crabb Signs With Caps

Real quick -- right wing Joey Crabb of Anchorage, 29, has signed a one-year, $950,000 deal with the NHL's Washington Caps.

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UAA Adds A Local Recruit In Hayden Trupp

The Blog's been remiss in getting this online, but UAA has added a local recruit in forward Hayden Trupp of Anchorage, who will join the Seawolves this fall.

Trupp, 20, last season earned 7-30--37 totals in 53 games with the Alexandria Blizzard of the NAHL, which announced his commitment to UAA. Previously, Trupp played for the Surrey Eagles in the BCHL -- he had 2-4--6 totals in 49 games for them two seasons ago.

He projects as a depth forward for the Seawolves.

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Former Aces Bench Boss Thompson Back In The NHL

Quick ascent for former Alaska Aces bench boss Brent Thompson in the coaching ranks -- he was named an assistant coach for the NHL's New York Islanders today.

Thompson last season led the Isles' AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to a division title in his first season as head coach for the Tigers. That came after he was head coach -- for the first time in his career -- of the Aces for two seasons, which he capped by guiding them to the ECHL's Kelly Cup in 2011.

So, Thompson, a former NHL defenseman, returns to the best league in the world.

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And Anchorage's Fejes Goes To Phoenix In The 6th Round

Make that three Anchorage skaters drafted in the NHL today -- left wing Hunter Fejes was taken in the sixth round, 178th overall, by the Phoenix Coyotes this morning.

Fejes, 18, helped Shattuck-St. Mary's to the USA Hockey U-18 national championship this spring and in the fall is headed to Colorado College as a true freshman.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder last season furnished the Sabres 38-40--78 totals in 55 games.

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Anchorage's Cooper Drafted In 5th Round By Anaheim

Defenseman Brian Cooper of Anchorage, who fast-tracked to the U.S. Hockey League when he was just 15, was selected in the fifth round of the NHL entry draft this morning by the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks made Cooper, 18, the 127th pick overall.

Cooper, listed at 5-foot-9, 184 pounds by the NHL, is headed to Nebraska-Omaha in the fall as a true freshman. He's also among the invites to USA Hockey's evaluation camp for consideration on the 2013 World Junior team.

Cooper played three seasons for Fargo in the USHL and captained the Force last season.

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