Alaska Aces (ECHL)

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Alaska Aces
200px
City Anchorage, Alaska
League ECHL
Conference Western Conference
Division Mountain Division
Founded 1995
Home arena Sullivan Arena
Colors

Black, glacier blue, silver, white

                   
Owner(s) Terry Parks
General manager Terry Parks
Head coach Brent Thompson
Affiliates St. Louis Blues (NHL), Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
Franchise history
1995–2003 Anchorage Aces
2003–present Alaska Aces
Championships
Regular season titles 2005–06, 2010–11
Division Championships 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2008–09, 2010–11
Conference Championships 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11
Kelly Cups 2005–06, 2010–11
For the Alaska Aces PBA team, see Alaska Aces (PBA).

The Alaska Aces are a minor league ice hockey team in Anchorage, Alaska. Home games are played at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. They are the reigning ECHL Kelly Cup Champions, having won the 2011 Kelly Cup Finals in five games over the Kalamazoo Wings. They currently enjoy their 2nd championship reign, their first coming in 2006.

They were originally part of the West Coast Hockey League, but when the WCHL was absorbed by the East Coast Hockey League in 2003, the team joined the merged ECHL. In 2005, the Aces joined an affiliation with the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League and the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League. The Aces official team mascot is Boomer, a polar bear. Aces fans are known for using small, ceremonial cow bells painted with the Aces insignia to show their support during games.

Originally a semi-pro club in the Pacific Southwest Hockey League known as the Anchorage Aces, they won the National Amateur Championship in 1993 and 1994. They finished second in 1992 and 1995.

Anchorage was an original WCHL franchise, joining the league in 1995. In 2002, with financial troubles, team owner Michael Cusack put the team up for sale on eBay. The listing was withdrawn when it was discovered that a US$2.3 million bid was a college student's prank.[1] Local ownership was later secured, and they were renamed the Alaska Aces in 2003. The team gained national prominence in 2004 when it signed New Jersey Devils all-star and Alaska-born Scott Gomez after the NHL lockout, who went on to lead the ECHL in scoring and win league Most Valuable Player honors.[2] The triple overtime win against Las Vegas Wranglers (2006) was the third longest game in ECHL history, 113 minutes, 30 seconds long.

In 2006, the Aces became only the second team in ECHL history (joining the South Carolina Stingrays of Charleston, SC) in winning both the Brabham Cup and Kelly Cup championships in the same season. (In 2008, the Cincinnati Cyclones became the third team to accomplish this feat and in 2011 the Alaska Aces did it again, becoming the first team to ever do it twice.)

The Aces play in the West Division of the ECHL's National Conference.

In 2006, Alaska won the ECHL Kelly Cup title in five games over the Gwinnett Gladiators. This was the first professional sports title won by an Alaskan team since the Anchorage Northern Knights won the Continental Basketball Association championship in 1980. Mike Scott received the ECHL Kelly Cup MVP award after the Aces' 4-3 win over the Gladiators in Game Five of the series.

On October 4, 2007, the Aces announced a one-year affiliation extension with the Blues and the Rivermen.

In 2009, the Aces stormed through the first three rounds of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, winning in five games against both the Utah Grizzlies and the Victoria Salmon Kings in the first two rounds, and sweeping the Las Vegas Wranglers in the National Conference Finals. They were in the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time since their championship season in 2006, [3] but they lost 4 games to 3 to the South Carolina Stingrays.

In 2011, the Aces dominated the entire season, having the best record in the league, and leading the league in points scored, winning the Brabham Cup. Wes Goldie lead the league in goals scored. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, they swept the Idaho Steelheads and Victoria Salmon Kings, and then won the Kelly Cup Championship over the Kalamazoo Wings in five games.

History

Origin

Dennis Sorenson formed an Anchorage senior men’s ice hockey team, named Anchorage Aces, to compete against a local in-state team, the Fairbanks Gold Kings. The Aces played four unofficial games during in the 1989–90 season. During the 1990–1991 season, Keith Street led the team on a 22-game schedule, which included 20 games against teams registered with USA Hockey. The 1990–1991 season ended with the Aces winning the Senior Men's Open National Championship held in Fairbanks.

Pacific Northwest Hockey League

The Aces joined the Pacific Northwest Hockey League for the 1991–92 season, playing six of their home games at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage and eight at the Central Peninsula Sports Center in Soldotna. The Aces finished second in the PNHL with a 16-12-2 regular season record, and were the runners-up in the national USA Hockey tourney after a 0-4-1 tourney run.

In the 1992–93 season, new head coach Mike Ashley led the Aces to a 19-3-0 regular season record. However, in the USA Hockey Senior Men's Open Tournament, the Aces finished second for the second year in a row after compiling a 4-1 record in the tourney, losing the tiebreaker to the Chicago Chargers. Ashley resigned following the season.

For the 1993–94 season, Steve Gasparini took over as head coach, and led the Aces to a 22-9-1 regular season record. The Aces also won their second championship in the USA Hockey Senior Men's Open National Tournament with a 5-0 run highlighted by the 6-0 rout of the Fresno Falcons. In 1994–95, the team went 27-9 and lost in the championship game to the Gold Kings.

West Coast Hockey League

After an unsuccessful attempt to form a new Pacific Rim Hockey League, the Aces joined the new West Coast Hockey League for the 1995–96 season, and played in that league until 2003.

Mike Cusack Jr. became sole owner of the franchise following the 1995-1996 season.

In the 1996–97 season, the Aces initially lost in the league playoffs to the Fresno Falcons three games to one. However the WCHL commissioner determined that their 2-4 loss in game four would be changed to a 1-0 victory due to forfeit by the Fresno Falcons when they failed to meet the minimum roster requirement because of injuries and suspensions. The Aces won the deciding fifth game 5-3 and advanced to the Taylor Cup.

In the 2000–2001 season a new Director of Player Personnel/Assistant Coach, Stirling Wright, was brought in. The Aces finished in third place with a 34-30-4 record and advanced to the semifinals, only to be ousted by Tacoma in three games.

In 2000–01, Stirling Wright was instrumental in bringing in former NHL players when the Aces signed former NHL goalie Vincent Riendeau and right wing Kevin Brown. The Idaho Steelheads defeated the Aces 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

In 2001–02, the Aces hired Stirling Wright as the new GM. He then hired former NHL coach and player Butch Goring as their new head coach, and re-signed only four players from the previous season. The Aces signed five former NHL players: defenseman Jim Paek, goaltender Scott Bailey, wingers Todd Harkins and Daniel Goneau and center Clayton Beddoes. Clayton Beddoes retired just a few games into the season due to a previous shoulder injury. The Aces promoted a "Guaranteed Win Night" where if they lost the game, the fans in attendance would receive free Aces tickets. After a 10-18-4 start, Aces' owner Mike Cusack fired Goring and VP of business operations Lou Corletto, and hired former head coach Poddubny. Shortly thereafter, general manager Stirling Wright stepped down due to his disapproval of the owner's decisions. The Aces went on to win only a few more games and the mass exodus of players soon followed after Wright left the team. The team itself was making a profit but the owner's other financial ventures continued to drain the team of its revenue.[citation needed] Much of the staff and players did not get paid on a regular basis.[citation needed]

In May 2002, Both Mike Cusack personally and his business properties including an Anchorage hotel and the Aces filed for bankruptcy; according to the filing papers, the team was almost $2 million in debt. In June 2002, the Aces were put up for sale on eBay. The club's owner, Cusack, accepted a $1.862 million bid from Duncan Harrison, owner of Alaskan Automotive Distributing in Anchorage, but U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge Donald MacDonald converted the Aces' bankruptcy case to Chapter 7, which allowed him to reject the Harrison bid. The club was eventually sold for $1.05 million to a seven-member group led by Terry Parks, a local investor, and Dan Coffey, a local businessman. Cusack's former hotel, known as the Northern Lights Hotel, was placed in receivership and currently sits empty.

ECHL

The Aces joined the ECHL for the 2003–04 season following a merger between the WCHL and the East Coast Hockey League. They were renamed the Alaska Aces after the league switch, and unveiled a new logo and new uniforms.

Uniform


Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, SOL = Shootout losses, Pts = Points, PCT = Winning percentage, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Records as of April 3, 2009. [4][5]

Season League Division GP W L T OTL SOL Pts PCT GF GA PIM Coach(es) Result
1995–96 WCHL WCHL 58 24 29 0 5 0 53 0.414 271 299 1758 Steve Gasparini Out of playoffs
1996–97 WCHL WCHL 64 41 18 0 5 0 87 0.641 349 260 2142 Walt Poddubny Lost in Finals
1997–98 WCHL WCHLN 64 36 20 0 8 0 80 0.562 308 261 2075 Walt Poddubny Lost in round 2
1998–99 WCHL WCHLN 71 46 22 0 3 0 95 0.648 332 260 1759 Walt Poddubny Lost in round 2
1999–00 WCHL WCHLN 74 31 34 0 9 0 71 0.419 272 334 1828 Walt Poddubny, Bob Wilkie, Derek Donald, Steve MacSwain Out of playoffs
2000–01 WCHL WCHLN 72 27 41 0 4 0 58 0.375 264 324 1820 Walt Poddubny, Stirling Wright Out of playoffs
2001–02 WCHL WCHLN 72 19 44 0 9 0 47 0.264 222 350 1573 Butch Goring, Stirling Wright, Walt Poddubny Lost in round 1
2002–03 WCHL WCHL 72 21 46 0 5 0 47 0.292 210 327 1926 Rod Davidson, Perry Florio Out of Playoffs
2003–04 ECHL Pacific 72 38 28 6 0 0 82 0.569 220 210 1648 Davis Payne Lost in round 2
2004–05 ECHL West 72 45 19 8 0 0 98 0.681 233 187 1389 Davis Payne Lost in round 3 (Trenton)
2005–06 ECHL West 72 53 12 7 0 0 113 0.785 289 168 1786 Davis Payne ECHL Kelly Cup Champions
2006–07 ECHL West 72 49 16 7 0 0 105 0.729 270 176 1972 Davis Payne Lost Conference Finals (Idaho)
2007–08 ECHL West 72 41 26 0 4 1 87 0.604 245 249 1319 Keith McCambridge Lost Conference Semifinals (Las Vegas)
2008–09 ECHL West 72 45 24 1 2 0 93 0.646 232 181 1537 Keith McCambridge Lost in Finals (South Carolina)
2009–10 ECHL West 72 36 28 0 4 4 80 0.556 232 240 1566 Brent Thompson Lost in round 1
2010–11 ECHL West 72 47 22 2 4 1 97 0.674 241 174 947 Brent Thompson ECHL Kelly Cup Champions
Totals 2 4 907 471 355 28 52 1 1023 0.537 3485 3405 22995 12 12 Playoff Seasons, 2 Championships

Current roster

Template:Alaska Aces (ECHL) current roster

Team Officials

Title STAFF MEMBER
Head Coach Brent Thompson
Head Athletic Trainer Brian Angelotti
Equipment Manager Michael Burkhead
Play-by-Play Announcer Josh Bogorad

NHLers

Notable players

Retired numbers

  • Keith Street – #8
  • Dean Larson – #18

References

  1. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 180. ISBN 1-894974-21-2.
  2. ^ Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 182. ISBN 1-894974-21-2.
  3. ^ http://www.alaskaaces.com/news/pressreleases/index.html?article_id=392
  4. ^ Hockeydb.com, Anchorage Aces season statistics and records 1995–2003.
  5. ^ Hockeydb.com, Anchorage Aces season statistics and records 2003-Present.

External links

League Championships
Preceded by
Pensacola Ice Pilots
Brabham Cup
2005–06
Succeeded by
Las Vegas Wranglers
Preceded by
Trenton Titans
Kelly Cup
2005–06
Succeeded by
Idaho Steelheads
Preceded by
Idaho Steelheads
Brabham Cup
2010–11
Succeeded by
current
Preceded by
Cincinnati Cyclones
Kelly Cup
2010–11
Succeeded by
current