The Alaska Aces added two more returners to the mix today with their announcement they have signed veteran defenseman and alternate captain Steve Ward, and rookie winger Tim Hall, to contracts for the upcoming ECHL season.
Ward, 26, will mark his third season with the Aces. He plays in every situation, is steady as they come and adds some offense. Last season Ward, who helped the Aces to the 2011 Kelly Cup in his first season with Alaska, posted 5-20—25 totals in 62 games. His +14 rating tied for third-best on the club, not shabby considering he played a ton of quality minutes.
And Ward is a complete pro – never too high, never too low, a model of equilibrium.
Hall joined the Aces late last season after wrapping his university career at Colorado College. He’s small – 5-8, 175 – but quick and fast. He played eight regular-season games (2 assists) and five playoff games (zero points). He’s likely third-line or 10th forward material, and coach Rob Murray seems intrigued by him.
That gives the Aces six announced signed players, all returners. The others are goaltender Gerald Coleman, center Nick Mazzolini, defenseman Kane Lafranchise and winger Jordan Kremyr.
The Aces, of course, did earlier announce the return of leading scorer Dan Kissel, but the winger bailed on them to take a gig in Norway, so Murray is still trying to hunt around and find a replacement, which will be a difficult task this late in the offseason.
In another Alaska-related signing, former UAA defenseman Lee Baldwin, who turned pro after his freshman season in 2010, has signed with ECHL Greenville. He split his first two seasons between the AHL and Greenville.