Aces repel Thunder, 7-5
ALASKA SURVIVES STOCKTON; MAGIC NUMBER ONE
Alex Leavitt and Mike Scott score twice as Aces outlast Thunder, 7-5
STOCKTON, Calif. - Alex Leavitt scored twice and assisted on two others as Alaska rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to move within one victory of its second straight division title, courtesy of a 7-5 decision over the Stockton Thunder before 6,296 at Stockton Arena.
The Aces looked flat for much of the first period, quickly falling behind on a turnover in their own zone which Mike Lalonde converted into a breakaway and his 29th goal of the season, a backhander that beat Matt Underhill glove side at 4:51. Stockton extended its lead to 2-0 when Lance Monych punched home a rebound at 12:18 and were it not for a skate save by defenseman Peter Metcalf, backing up Underhill, who had been out-maneuvered by Monych, Alaska might have been down 3-0. Instead, the Aces cut their deficit in half on a subsequent power play, as Barrett Heisten whipped a one-timer past Thunder goalie Jake Moreland with just 8.9 seconds left on the clock.
Alaska carried that momentum into the second period, tying the game on Mike Scott's 35th goal of the season at 3:11. Vladimir Novak gave the Aces their first lead with 7:31 left in the frame, scoring off the rush after a centering pass from Chris Minard, playing his second game for Alaska since returning from Albany (AHL). Matt Shasby set Leavitt loose on a breakaway late in the period, and the league's leading scorer made no mistake, beating Moreland with a backhander top shelf for his 25th of the year at 17:21 for a 4-2 advantage heading into the final period.
Scott scored again on a power play at 2:46 of the third period, but Monych answered with his second of the night barely a minute later to keep the Thunder within striking distance at 5-3. Stockton failed to capitalize on a subsequent five-on-three, and when Kimbi Daniels scored shorthanded with 11:27 left in regulation, the game appeared to be over. But a pair of goals by Joel Irwin reduced the gap to 6-5 with four minutes remaining. Leavitt scored his second goal of the night to push the margin back to two goals with 2:46 left, and the Aces killed off another five-on-three in the closing seconds to secure the victory.
Alaska (52-11-7) heads to Fresno tomorrow for a rematch with the Pacific Division champion Falcons Friday at 6:00 p.m. AST. The Aces edged Fresno 3-2 Tuesday night for their fifth straight win over the Falcons as Troy Riddle scored his first two goals in an Alaska sweater. A win at Fresno or at Bakersfield Saturday will secure the division championship for the Aces, regardless of what second-place Las Vegas does over its final two games. All Alaska Aces games are broadcast live on KFQD AM 750 and at www.alaskaaces.com, where all home games and selected road contests also are available on a pay-per-view basis, courtesy of B2 Networks.
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ECHL Stories from April 6, 2006
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