Friday was not a banner night for the Alaska Aces -- not in the figurative sense of the phrase.
Sure, before tonight's home opener they added some new touches to literal banners -- signifying last season's Mountain Division and Western Conference titles, and Brabham Cup as regular-season ECHL champs.
But then Utah crashed the celebration before 5,328 by racking a 5-2 win.
That snapped Alaska's string of eight straight home-opening wins. The Aces are 8-2-0 all-time in ECHL home openers.
The Grizzlies looked explosive, particularly Mitch Wahl (one goal, two assists) and NHLer Brad Mills (one goal, one helper), and goaltender Andrew Engelage was large (33 saves).
The Aces (1-2-0), who got a third-period goal from NHLer Brandon Dubinsky on a breakaway and a power-play strike later in the period from rookie defenseman William Wrenn, were never particularly in it. They trailed 4-0 after two periods, and although the cut the gap to 4-2, Wahl's goal restored a cushion for the Grizzlies (3-0-0).
Aces goaltender James Reid (17 saves) wasn't too sharp, and his defense didn't have a stellar night.
The Aces also lost defenseman Kane Lafranchise in the third period when he took a hit to the head from Riley Armstrong, who received a match penalty. Armstrong, the reigning ECHL Player of the Week, is probably looking at a suspension. The Aces list Lafranchise as day-to-day.
Oh, well, there's always Saturday, or as Aces captain Steve Ward called it, "Redemption day.''
We shall see.