The Alaska Aces hit the end of the line tonight, knocked out of the first round of the ECHL playoffs for the first time in their seven seasons on the minor-league circuit -- until now, they had made it to the second round a league-record six straight seasons.
Stockton 8, Alaska 5. Stockton takes the best-of-5 series, 3-1.
The Aces were undone by ghastly goaltending, plain and simple. Billy Sauer got torched early, Scott Reid got torched after that, and it was game over.
Alaska gave up 20 goals in three consecutive losses to Stockton after winning Game 1 4-3.
The Aces blew five leads in the four series games -- that was an obvious shortcoming, too.
And thus ends a tumultuous season for the Aces, who saw center Alexandre Imbeault bolt for Europe; goaltending savior Frank Doyle nabbed by the AHL; winger Colin Hemingway and defenseman Derick Martin, two staples on last season's Kelly Cup Finals club, traded; massive injuries; and wildly inconsistent goaltending for much of the season.
So, that's it -- until next October.