If you think you have seen this movie play out before, it may not just be you. However, the Alaska Aces definitely are hoping this film ends just like the last seasons.
One year removed from a historical postseason run that saw the Aces hoist their second ever Kelly Cup in the ECHL, the script may have had a few slight re-writes but the planned climax and ending remains the same.
The characters in that script may have a few different features but have a familiar feel as well.
The main actors such as Wes Goldie, Brian Swanson, Gerald Coleman, Brian Miller, Chad Anderson are all back in starring roles for the Aces this year. So are some of the supporting cast such as Steve Ward, Brandon Gentile, Dan Kissel, Zach Harrison, Kane Lafranchise and Garry Nunn all continue to add to the collective whole with their various roles on the team.
Some new faces have found their way into this version of the script. Names like Jordan Kremyr, Ryan Cruthers, James Reid, and Danny Markowitz have come in and become solid role players for the team and have added a new flare to this movie.
If you want even more twists, the Aces even returned a couple former players in Tyson Marsh and Nick Mazzolini. Both of whom were on the Aces roster when the team bowed out to the Stockton in the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
Mazzolini, a local boy and former ECHL all-star, was knocked out of the postseason that year with a concussion and has got a slight taste of the postseason in an Aces sweater. Meanwhile, Marsh was also on the 2009 Kelly Cup runner-up squad that was a game away from hoisting the trophy but had to watch the South Carolina Stingrays skate off the Sullivan Arena ice with the coveted cup.
Both players will bring hope of rink redemption to this movie .
There is a new (director) head coach but the results are pretty similar. In fact, Rob Murray, the Aces first year bench boss, just took down the 2012 Coach of the Year award and followed in the footsteps of the Aces’ former coach and 2011 Coach of the Year recipient, Brent Thompson.
Even the plot is nearly a carbon copy of the last time around. The Aces head into this years postseason as the repeat Brabham Cup winners, which is awarded to the team with the best regular season record in the ECHL. The Brabham Cup also means the team who wins it will enjoy the home-ice advantage for as long as they remain alive in the postseason.
And does anyone else find it strange the Aces won the Brabham Cup with a total of 97 points for the second straight season and .674 win percentage? Also, if that wasn’t enough, this team, just like last years, has the best home ice record (29-5-2) and best goal differential in the league (positive 52) after the regular season was all finished up.
With that in hand, the Aces also receive a first round bye in the playoffs and move straight into the Western Conference Semifinals where they will await the winner of the series between the Colorado Eagles and before-mentioned Thunder.
And scary as it sounds, the Aces may even get better as they currently have six players in the American Hockey League (AHL), one step up above the ECHL, who may yet make cameos in this film. The likes of Scott Howes, Russ Sinkewich, David Shields, Adam Courchaine, and Chris Bruton may adorn the glacier blue and join in this years hunt for a repeat performance.
Add the fact that the Aces are trying to become only the second team in ECHL history, and first since the 1991-92 Hampton Roads Admirals team, to repeat as the Kelly Cup Champions, and you have yet another twist.
So if all of this seems familiar, don’t be alarmed. The Aces simply are just the favorites to win the Kelly Cup once again and are doing it the only way they know how, despite having a few different twists to the plot. And something tells me the hockey fans in Anchorage would have no problem watching this movie again.
Just consider this a remake of your old favorite movie with a few modern adjustments.
Alaska Aces: the stage is now all yours.