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

Utah 5, Aces 2

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.

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