The Alaska Aces needed only one goal to get the win on the road as they shutout the Ontario Reign, 1-0, at Citizens Business Bank Arena Thursday night to take game one of a two game series.
Both goalies, Reigns Kellen Briggs and Aces Gerald Coleman, made spectacular saves to keep their teams in the game.
The opening period went back and forth with end to end action, but neither team could find the back of the net. Both teams’ best chances came on the man advantage.
The Aces had a great opportunity to get on the board early in the first. Defenseman Alex Dzielski passed the puck down low just below the face-off dot to Scott Burt positioned in front. Burt turned around and fired the puck on net but Briggs flashed the leather, making a beautiful glove save.
Ontario’s best chance of the period came late on the power-play. Newly named captain David Walker snapped a shot on net and Jon Francisco re-directed it but the offering was swallowed up by Coleman.
Late in the second, Ontario defenseman Chad Starling was stick-checked behind his net by Ace’s Scott Howes. Howes took the stolen puck, walked out in front, and dished it to Brian Swanson. Swanson let the shot go and Howes banged the rebound right past Briggs for the eventual game winning goal.
The Reign had their chances to tie the game up. Just minutes after the Aces had taken the lead, Ontario’s Aaron Lewadniuk dug the puck out of the corner and walked right in against Coleman. Lewadniuk deked to his backhand and tried to slip the puck five-hole but Coleman snapped the pads closed to keep the 1-0 lead.
In the third, Ontario once again missed their opportunities. Late in the period, they had a prime scoring chance on the power-play. Tim Kraus set up on the right boards and centered a pass to Jeff Corey. Corey cradled the feed and snapped a shot on net but Coleman slid across to make a blocker save.
With Briggs on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice, the Reign made their final surge with seconds remaining. They tried to hammer the puck past Coleman but he remained solid in net. He turned away the late chances, securing the shutout and the victory.
Briggs did his part at the other end, making 24 saves in the loss. Coleman blocked all 27 shots he faced to earn the shutout win. The win puts Coleman tied for the league lead with five.
Ontario falls to 2-5-0-1 on the season and is currently riding a four game losing streak. Alaska improves to 6-2 and now ties the Victoria Salmon Kings for first place in the Western Conference and the Mountain Division.
The two teams will square off again at Citizens Business Bank Arena Saturday night as the Reign will look to even the two game series.