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Red-hot Aces give fans reason to cheer

Monday, 03.16.2009 / 7:40 PM / ECHL Report

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Alaska Aces finished their home schedule on a phenomenal high.
   
Keith McCambridge's club has won six straight and became the first to clinch a playoff spot in the National Conference with Sunday's 7-1 demolition of the Phoenix RoadRunners at Sullivan Arena.
   
Alaska won 17 of its last 19 games in Anchorage and has opened a six-point lead on the Idaho Steelheads -- who have dropped three in a row -- in the West Division. After Sunday's win, which completed a four-game sweep of Phoenix, the Aces gave the 4,284 in attendance a stick salute on Fan Appreciation Night. Alaska finished the 2008-09 campaign with a home record of 28-7-1.
     
"It's definitely a group of fans that deserves a thank you because no matter what building you go into, there's no fans like our fans,'' Aces defenseman Matt Shasby told the Anchorage Daily News.

"We have a group of fans that love Aces hockey, and it's nice to give them a good performance to end the regular season here and get them excited about the playoffs.''
   
The Aces won the Kelly Cup in 2006 and reached the conference finals in 2005 and 2007. Sunday's win improved their overall record to 40-21-3, as they lead the conference and the West with 83 points. The top four finishers in the division will advance to the Kelly Cup Playoffs and will be seeded based on regular season winning percentage. The Division Semifinals will be played Apr. 9-22 in a best-of-seven series.
   
Sunday's victory certainly was a fitting way for the Aces to complete their home schedule. After the game, they went out to a heated tent in the Sullivan Arena parking lot to celebrate the season at the Fan Appreciation Party. Alaska will play its final eight games of the regular season on the road, beginning Thursday night at Phoenix.
   
"The fans were a big part of our season, and it's been that way every season I've been here,'' Aces forward Cam Keith said. "That's one of the reasons guys come here. A big crowd gives you a lot of energy and it's a big advantage.
   
"It's become a great friendship, and we're very thankful for that. It doesn't matter if it's a Wednesday or a Saturday night or a Sunday, the fans always come out.''
   
One of the biggest reasons for Alaska's success this season has been the play of rookie goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who leads the ECHL with 28 wins. He made 25 saves on Sunday. His 2.31 goals-against average and seven shutouts are also tops in the league.

Around the ECHL
-- The Phoenix RoadRunners acquired defenseman Brian Deeth and rookie forwards Peter-James Corsi and David Rutherford from the Charlotte Checkers in exchange for defenseman Steve Ward and future considerations. Phoenix also landed forward Chase Trull from the Mississippi Sea Wolves in exchange for future considerations, while Charlotte signed forward Matt Schepke and goaltender Parker Van Buskirk.  … The Gwinnett Gladiators signed rookie defenseman Brandon Gentile. … The Edmonton Oilers reassigned rookie goaltender Bryan Pitton to the Stockton Thunder. … The Toronto Maple Leafs reassigned rookie goalie James Reimer to the South Carolina Stingrays. … The Reading Royals sent forward Peder Skinner to Mississippi for future considerations. The Sea Wolves then dealt Skinner and defenseman Chris Brooks to the Utah Grizzlies in exchange for forward Evan Kotsopoulos. … Utah's Rob Hennigar was named Player of the Week after going 2-8-10 in just four games. … Curtis Darling of the Wheeling Nailers was tabbed Goalie of the Week, thanks to two victories and a 1.50 goals-against average. ... Reading signed rookie goalie Beau Erickson.

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.

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