Chris Francis rolls with three point game, Aces 5-0-2 in 7 games
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - Chris Francis scored twice and added an assist, while the Alaska Aces skated away with three goals in the second period in a 5-3 victory over the Utah Grizzlies before 2,933 fans at Maverik Center on Wednesday.
The Aces, jumping into fifth place in the Pacific Division while improving to 5-0-2 in the last seven games, used an early power play goal by Ryan Walters and a three assist game from Brendan Connolly to earn their third win in four games over Utah.
After going without a goal in three games against the Grizzlies last week and 0-of-5 on the power play in last Saturday's 4-1 win, the Aces solved both issues with Walters' power play goal 10:39 of the first period, finishing Connolly's set up between the circles.
The Aces seized control by outshooting Utah, 10-0 in the early stages of the game and yet required Niklas Lundstrom to be sharp, stopping Michael Pelech at the goal mouth on a wide-open look.
Pelech eventually broke through with a shorthanded goal at 11:18 of the second period, tying the game when the twisted to the inside on the Aces defense and snuck a backhander through Lundstrom's five hole.
The goal began a run of five combined goals between the teams in a span of 8:46.
Coffman answered just nine seconds left after Pelech's goal, breaking into the Utah zone and unleashing a snap shot past Ryan Faragher's blocker for a 2-1 lead. Then with the Aces penalty kill (two shorthanded goals last Saturday) going to work in their zone, they chipped a loose puck to center ice, enabling Brad Richard to cash in for a shorthanded goal at 14:32 for a 3-1 lead, on a backhander past Faragher's blocker.
Michael Colavecchia drew Utah to within a goal on a redirection past Lundstrom's blocker with 2:44 to go in the period, but the Aces responded with 56 seconds left on Francis' first goal of the game. Alaska took off with a four-on-two break and Connolly found Francis, the trailer, with a snap shot over Faragher's blocker.
Faragher was replaced by Daniel Spence, making his Utah debut, to begin the third period and after Barry Almeida's rebound goal at 6:57 for a 4-3 deficit, Francis deflected a seemingly harmless backhander off Spence for a 5-3 lead at 11:44.
Lundstrom earned his 13th win of the season with 23 stops. Faragher allowed four goals on 30 shots.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Justin Johnson, Ryan Tesink, Brad Gorham and Quinn Sproule and Justin Breton ... Walters has 11 points in the last 6 games ... the Aces improved to 3-1-1 in the season series over Utah ... the Aces outshot Utah, 38-26 ... since Nov. 11, the Aces are 12-4-2 in a stretch of 18 games.
Alaska moves on to visit the Idaho Steelheads on Friday, a 5:10 p.m. (KFQD/ECHL.TV) game at CenturyLink Arena.
For Kelly Cup championship merchandise, 2014-15 season tickets, corporate sponsorship packages, and more information, please call 907-258-ACES. The Aces can also be visited on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alaskaaceshockey or on Twitter @AlaskaAces.
1. AK - C. Francis
2. AK - B. Richard
3. AK - R. Walters
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