On-again, off-again Alaska Aces winger Chris Bruton, who started this past season with the ECHL club before earning promotion to AHL Peoria and then returning to the Aces when Peoria failed to make the playoffs, has agreed to a one-year AHL deal with Peoria.
He earned it the hard way -- by coming up from the ECHL, taking on all comers despite relative lack of size for fighting, and doing whatever it took (blocking shots, fighting, being a pest) to stick in the AHL.
In 27 regular-season games for the Aces, Bruton put up 6-7--13 and +4 totals, with 60 penalty minutes. In 38 games for Peoria, he went 2-3--5 and -7, with 66 penalty minutes.
He was hobbled by a lower-body injury for the Aces in the postseason, which left him gimpy and not nearly close to 100 percent. Still, he's never short on competitive fire, leadership and character. Good for him.
Also in the AHL tonight, it was goodbye to the St. John's IceCaps, coached by former Aces coach and captain Keith McCambridge. The IceCaps lost 4-0 to Norfolk, which gave the Admirals a sweep of the series and a berth in the Calder Cup Finals. (Remember, Norfolk won its last 28 games of the regular season, and its first playoff game, so the Tampa Bay Lightning farm club is, um, pretty good). Still, nice debut season as an AHL bench boss for Mac.
Lastly, was parking downtown today and a horn honked at The Blog. It was AHLer, and former Aces and Seawolves winger Justin Johnson of Anchorage, one of the sweetest success stories from these parts. Struggled to get regular playing time in the ECHL, kept working, working, working, and ended up a full-timer in the AHL. Good to see J.J. back around town.