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

Fort Wayne, Evansville Move To ECHL From CHL

The ECHL, which includes the Alaska Aces, added two more teams today when it announced the Fort Wayne Komets and Evansville IceMen, both of whom previously played in the Central Hockey League, have been approved as expansion members for the 2012-13 season.

With the previously announced addition of expansion teams in Orlando and San Francisco, plus the demise of the Chicago franchise after just one season, the ECHL will have 23 teams next season.

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Team USA (And Crabb, Thompson) Eliminated At World Championships

Tough exit for Team USA, which includes forwards Joey Crabb and Nate Thompson of Anchorage, today at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

The Americans fell 3-2 in the quarterfinals to the host Finns, who scored the game-winning strike with just 8.8 seconds left. Finland scored twice in the last seven minutes -- ouch.

Crabb had an assist on the game and was +1 with one shot in 13:44 of ice time. Thompson was -3 with one shot in 11:26.

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UAA Adds A Recruit In Anchorage's Bobby Murphy

UAA has added a local to its roster -- forward Bobby Murphy of Anchorage will join the Seawolves in the fall, according to Chris Heisenberg's recruiting site.

Murphy, 20, played the last two seasons with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League.

Last season, he put up 10-19--29 and -4 totals in 47 regular-season games. In two seasons with Kenai, he played 102 regular-season games with 22-37--59 and -20 totals.

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Florida Strikes Back: Everblades 7, Wranglers 2

After the Las Vegas Wranglers landed the first blow in the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals with Monday night's 2-1 series-opening win, the Florida Everblades answered tonight with a wicked counterattack to bag a 7-2 win in Game 2 of the best-of-7.

Man, Wranglers goaltender Joe Fallon must have looked mortal for a change. He gave up all seven goals, on just 28 shots.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, Las Vegas led 2-0 less than 16 minutes into the game before getting thoroughly whacked.

So, basically, the Everblades have stolen home-ice advantage. Game 3 is Friday in Florida.

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Kelly Cup Finals: Las Vegas Strikes First

The Las Vegas Wranglers racked their fifth straight win Monday night, beating the visiting Florida Everblades, 2-1, in the opener of the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals.

Some usual suspects shined: Joe Fallon furnished 32 saves and Eric Lampe scored one goal and set up the other to give the Wranglers the win at Orleans Arena, where Game 2 is tonight.

Fallon in the playoffs is 7-1 with a 1.22 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. Lampe owns 7-11--18 totals in 14 playoff games.

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Couple Of Notes (WHL, USHL)

Sunday brought the end of the line this season for defenseman William Wrenn of Anchorage and Josh Hanson of Eagle River -- their Portland Winterhawks team lost Game 7 of the Western Hockey League Finals, 4-1 at Edmonton.

Both Wrenn and Hanson played all 22 playoff games for the Winterhawks, and both went +4. Wrenn, a San Jose Sharks draft pick, had four assists.

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Playoff Push: Alaska Connections (AHL, USHL, WHL, World Championships)

Let's get caught up -- there's a bunch of playoffs going on, ya know.

In the AHL, former Alaska Aces bench boss and captain Keith McCambridge, now rookie bench boss of the St. John's IceCaps, has his club in the Eastern Conference Finals, which open Thursday at Norfolk. St. John's on Saturday beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 2-1 in Game 7 of that series to advance. Former UAA winger Kevin Clark is on the IceCaps -- he's played two games, no points, even rating, in these playoffs.

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End Of The Line For The Fairbanks Ice Dogs

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs' defense of their 2011 Robertson Cup as champions of the North American Hockey League came to a close tonight with a 4-3 OT loss to Texas in the Robertson Cup semifinals in Frisco, Texas.

Texas scored 16:39 into OT.

Sunday, Ice Dogs forwards Gabe Levin and J.T. Osborn, and defenseman Sean O'Rourke, were all named to the All-NAHL team -- that's three of the six positions -- and Fairbanks' Rob Proffitt was named general manager of the year for the second straight season.

Texas will play St. Louis in the championship game.

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Anchorage's William Rapuzzi Named Team Captain At CC; Anchorage's Wrenn In WHL Finals

Winger William Rapuzzi of Anchorage, who will be a senior in the fall, has been named captain at Colorado College in a unanimous vote by his teammates.

Rapuzzi, 22, last season earned 3-12--15 totals in 35 games, and in 109 career games for the Tigers owns 24-28--52 totals.

Also, defenseman William Wrenn of Anchorage, a San Jose Sharks draft pick who began a college career at Denver before heading to the Western Hockey League, is in the WHL Finals with the Portland Winterhawks, who own a 2-1 lead over Edmonton in the best-of-7 series entering Tuesday night's Game 4.

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Fairbanks' Williams Headed To USHL Clark Cup Finals

Waterloo goaltender Stephon Williams racked 29 saves tonight to spearhead a 6-2 win over Lincoln that gave the Black Hawks the Western Conference finals in four games -- the series was best-of-5 -- and deliver them into the U.S. Hockey League's Clark Cup Finals.

Williams didn't surrender a goal until the third period -- that, combined with his 5-0 win in Game 3, gave him a shutout streak to 98 minutes, 15 seconds. He's 8-2 in the playoffs, with a 2.21 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Williams is headed to Minnesota State-Mankato in the fall.

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CHL Presidents' Cup For Defenseman Bryant Molle Of Anchorage

Congrats to rookie defenseman Bryant Molle of Anchorage, who along with his Fort Wayne Komets teammates tonight captured the Central Hockey League's Presidents' Cup with a clinching 6-3 win over Wichita.

The Komets won the best-of-7 series in five games and went 12-6 in the playoffs. That run included a seven-game victory over Missouri in the previous round, when the Komets won Games 6 and 7 to advance to the Finals.

Molle played in 16 playoff games, with 1-4--5 totals after going 1-5--6 in 60 regular-season games.

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Alaska Connections In Playoffs: NAHL, USHL, AHL, CHL

After dropping their opener Thursday at the North American Hockey League's Robertson Cup, the defending champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs have racked two wins to advance to Monday's semifinals.

The Ice Dogs today beat Port Huron 4-3 after knocking off Amarillo 3-1 on Friday.

In the U.S. Hockey League, Waterloo goaltender Stephon Williams of Fairbanks bagged his first playoff shutout -- 23 saves -- tonight in a 5-0 win over visiting Lincoln that gives Waterloo a 2-1 edge in the best-of-5 entering Monday's Game 4 in Waterloo.

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It's Las Vegas-Florida In The ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals

Just like the Las Vegas Wranglers dispatched the Alaska Aces in five games in the ECHL's Western Conference finals, the Florida Everblades tonight dismissed the Kalamazoo K-Wings (the club Alaska beat in five games in the Kelly Cup Finals last season) with a 3-1 victory that ended the Eastern Conference finals in five games.

So that makes Las Vegas-Florida in the best-of-7, Kelly Cup Finals.

Whoever wins that series will take home the first Cup in the franchise's history -- Las Vegas lost to Cincy in 2008, and Florida lost to Trenton in 2005 and Idaho in 2004.

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Thompson, Crabb Help USA Beat Canada In OT At Worlds

Anchorage's Nate Thompson and Joey Crabb, friends since they were kids, helped Team USA beat Canada, 5-4 in OT, today at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

Thompson's third-period goal off a primary assist from Crabb gave the Americans a 4-3 lead before Duncan Keith tied it late for Canada. Defenseman and team captain Jack Johnson scored his second goal of the game, 1:47 into extra time, to give the Americans the win.

Thompson, the Tampa Bay Lightning center, is an alternate captain for Team USA. He and Crabb, the Toronto Maple Leafs winger, were both +1 today.

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Here's A Way To Look At The Aces Through The Playoffs Lens

Just a quick thought before settling into the couch for some quality Philly-New Jersey time on the first day of the "offseason'' following the Alaska Aces' elimination from the ECHL's Kelly Cup playoffs with Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to Las Vegas, which wrapped the Western Conference finals in five games.

In eight previous ECHL seasons, the 2011 Kelly Cup champion Aces have twice won the Cup, been beaten once in the Finals and three times lost in the playoffs to the eventual Cup winners. Also, in 2008, the Aces lost out to Las Vegas, which went to the Finals and lost to Cincy.

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Anchorage's Cooper Invited To NHL Draft Combine (Plus, USHL Note)

Defenseman Brian Cooper of Anchorage, headed to Nebraska-Omaha in the fall as a true freshman following three seasons in the USHL, is one of 105 players invited to NHL Central Scouting's Draft Combine, which begins later this month in Montreal.

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Fairbanks Ice Dogs Drop Robertson Cup Opener; Alaska Avs Move To Penn. Complete

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, reigning Robertson Cup champs in the NAHL, lost their Cup opener today in Frisco, Texas, falling 3-1 to the St. Louis Bandits.

Tayler Munson scored just 35 seconds into the match for the Ice Dogs, who thereafter were held in check by St. Louis goaltendeer Spencer Viele (32 saves).

In other NAHL news, the Palmer-based Alaska Avalanche are history, now that the franchise has been acquired by Pennsylvania interests and will move to Johnstown. You get the details by clicking here.

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The End Of The Line: Wranglers 3, Aces 1

We'll keep it tight tonight -- it's been a long season, and it's over for the Alaska Aces after their 3-1 loss tonight to Las Vegas earned the Wranglers the ECHL's Western Conference title in five games.

So ends the Aces' defense of the Kelly Cup they captured last season for the second time in franchise history. So ends the quest for a fourth trip to the Kelly Cup Finals.

Las Vegas was simply a better team, more dynamic, deeper, and as three straight wins at Sullivan Arena proved, deserving.

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NAHL: Fairbanks Ice Dogs, Ready To Defend Title, Clean Up On All-West Division Team

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the North American Hockey League's reigning champs, defend their Robertson Cup title this week in Frisco, Texas, and today they cleaned up on the circuit's All-West Division honors, furnishing three of the guys on that six-player team.

Check out the dudes honored by division coaches and general managers:

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Aces-Wranglers: Only One Team's Big Guns Are Scoring

If the Alaska Aces are to have a puncher's chance of extending their ECHL Western Conference finals series against the Las Vegas Wranglers, who lead 3-1 in the best-of-7 heading into tonight's Game 5 at Sullivan Arena, it figures they will almost certainly need some scoring punch from their top players.

That formula has Las Vegas poised to make its second trip to the Kelly Cup Finals (the Wranglers lost in six games to Cincinnati in 2008).

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