The East Coast Hockey League finals ended tonight as the Alaska Aces (St. Louis Blues affiliate) defeated the Kalamazoo Wings (New York Islanders affiliate) in game five of the Kelly Cup Finals.
The Aces, who won the Kelly Cup back in 2006, faced off against an impressive Kalamazoo team. Yet it would be the Aces who came out on top in the series.
After winning game one 5-0, the Aces faced a much different Wings team in game two. The K-Wings came out flying and out shot Alaska 15-7 in the opening frame, yet the Aces somehow would end the period 2-0 after goals came from forwards Dan Kissil and Curtis Fraser.
The K-Wings would scored twice in the third to tie the game and the two teams would need extra time to find a winner. It would be a too many men on the ice penalty that would give the Aces to take a 2-0 series lead. They took full opportunity of that chances as Bryan Miller would score and lift the Aces to a big win.
Kalamazoo answered back in game three by beating the Aces 4-1. This would not deter the Aces from their goal as they bounced back and battled with the Wings in game four.
A five goal first period for the Aces was a high for any team in the Kelly Cup playoffs this season, yet that didn’t knock out the K-Wings completely. Kalamazoo scored once before the end of the first before posting two more in the second period. Unfortunately for the Wings, the Aces notched two more to boost the score to 7-3 before the third period.
Two more goals for the Wings in the third pulled them to within two but wouldn’t be enough as the Aces went on to take game four and had a chances to end the series in game five.
A scoreless first period for both teams in the first was a surprising one as there has been a fair amount of offensive in the first frame in the series between the two teams. Alaska out shot Kalamazoo 11-10 in the first, while the Wings hit two posts and saw the first frame end 0-0.
The Wings, Brian McGuirk opened the scoring in the second off a deflection early and the Wings had hope. That hope lasted all of 32 seconds as the Aces answered with a sharp-angled Steve Ward goal.
Chris Langkow made it 2-1 Aces on the powerplay mid-way through the second, but the Wings responded when A.J. Thelen scored just three minutes later. Chad Anderson scored with just over a minute to go to give the Aces a 3-2 lead heading into the third. The Aces were out shooting the Wings 13-8 in the game at the end of the second.
Langkow scored again in the third to give the Aces a two goal lead. Shortly after, Kalamazoo answered. Then it was Curtis Fraser, putting the icing on the cake for Alaska which saw them take home their second ever Kelly Cup.
Gerald Coleman lead the Aces in the post season, going 11-1-0 in the span with a goals against average below 2.0 and a save percentage that hovered around the .940 mark. That is beyond impressive for any goaltender in any league.
Scott Howes was named Kelly Cup Playoff, MVP after scoring 7 goals, 12 assists, for 19 points in just 12 games for the Aces in the playoffs.
A big congrats to Kalamazoo to making it to the finals and a bigger congrats to Alaska to taking it all when it meant the most!
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