BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Captain Nick Mazzolini collected a goal, added two assists and Olivier Roy only had to make 11 saves for his first career playoff shutout, helping the Alaska Aces sink the Bakersfield Condors in a 4-0 victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final before 4,708 fans at Rabobank Arena on Sunday.
The Aces, outscoring Bakersfield, 12-3 in the last eight periods of the series and holding the advantage in shots tonight (42-11), moved to within one victory of reaching the Kelly Cup Finals for their four time since entering the ECHL in 2003-04 and will take the lead to Alaska for Game 6 on Tuesday.
Andy Taranto, John Ramage and Turner Elson also each contributed with a goal. Condors goaltender Laurent Brossoit suffered his first set of back-to-back losses in the playoffs and made 38 saves.
The Aces controlled most of the first period and outshot the Condors, 12-4 before finally striking on a 5-on-3 power play goal to open the scoring in the second period. Amidst a flurry of scoring chances off the rush, Kane Lafranchise whipped an outlet pass to Mazzolini, who rocketed a snap shot past Brossoit’s glove from the right circle at 7:51.
Bakersfield’s penalty troubles continued and Taranto earned his first goal of the playoffs as Collin Bowman’s delay of game penalty expired at 9:59. Taranto went to the goal mouth and stashed Mazzolini’s pass from behind the net for a 2-0 lead.
With the lead intact heading into the third period, the Aces tightened the screws defensively and allowed just three shots in the final 20 minutes. Ramage’s third goal of the playoffs, on another 5-on-3 situation, elevated the Aces to a 3-0 lead when he stashed a rebound over a fallen Brossoit at the goal mouth.
Brossoit was pulled for an extra attacker with less than four minutes left, and Elson successfully outraced the Bakersfield defense for a loose puck at the right circle and empty net goal with 3:41 left.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, Brett Findlay, Peter Sivak and James Martin ... the Aces have outshot their opponent in each game of the playoffs … the Aces have won eight of the last nine road playoff games, dating back to last season … their record in Game 5 situations improved to 13-5.
KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GAME 1 - Aces win 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead
GAME 2 - Condors win 3-2 in OT to tie the series 1-1
GAME 3 - Condors win 5-4 to take a 2-1 series lead
GAME 4 - Aces win 4-1 to tie the series 2-2
GAME 5 - Aces win 4-0 to take a 3-2 series lead
GAME 6 - at Alaska, Tuesday, 5/27 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
GAME 7 - at Alaska, Wednesday, 5/28 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
* If necessary