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

Former Aces Center Imbeault Is Now Current Aces Center Imbeault (UPDATED)

The Alaska Aces have acquired former Aces center Alexandre Imbeault, who helped them to Game 7 of the ECHL’s 2009 Kelly Cup Finals, from the Orlando Solar Bears for future considerations – that deal has taken place even as Aces coach Rob Murray still is trying to get a couple of defensemen because his group is riddled with injuries. (Also, Imbeault has played for Murray before, when Murray was head coach at AHL Providence).

(UPDATE: Imbeault is on a plane at the moment, and is scheduled to arrive in Anchorage tonight, which means he should be practicing with the Aces on Thursday morning).

Imbeault, 26, was at his best in those 2009 playoffs, racking 7-12—19 totals in 20 games and playing more physical and gritty that he did in his slightly more than one and a half regular seasons with the club. In that 2008-09 regular season, he earned 20-27—47 totals in 64 games.

The following season, he owned 44-18-30—48 totals when he left the Aces during a California road trip and hooked up with a club in the Czech Republic. That didn’t go over awesome with the Aces at the time, considering Imbeault was their leading scorer, their first-line pivot and their power-play quarterback. To be fair, the head coach at the time, Brent Thompson, at the time said he was initially upset Imbeault left the club, but understood the center was probably getting more money abroad and trying to further his career.

In Imbeault, the Aces get a top-line center who is good on the power play. Presumably, his acquisition serves as protection against the end of the NHL lockout. If the lockout ends, the Aces will lose three NHLers – Brandon Dubinsky, Nate Thompson and Joey Crabb – and much of their firepower.

Imbeault had 0-2—2 totals in four games for Orlando this season. In his last full season in the ECHL, he was a force, with 36-27—63 totals in 57 games for the Florida Everblades.

Imbeault split last season between a semi-pro league in Canada and the Stavanger Oilers in Norway. He does not count as a veteran, coming up just shy of the 260 regular-season pro games (caveat: some Euro leagues don’t count) that the ECHL uses as a benchmark for veteran status.

Future considerations – or “futures’’ as they are known in the biz – could be anything from a negligible amount of cash to the ECHL rights to a player. For instance, the Aces late last season acquired center Ryan Cruthers from the Reading Royals for futures, which turned out to be the rights to center Chris Langkow. (From the small world dept.: Cruthers is now with Orlando, the team Imbeault is leaving).

Check back for updates, and check out Thursday’s dead-trees edition of the ADN for more on the Imbeault move.

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