CINCINNATI, OH -- Brad Richard and Turner Elson each scored in the final five minutes of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and lift the Alaska Aces to a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones in Game 5 of the Kelly Cup Finals before 4,488 fans at U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday.
The victory moved the Aces to within one win of a third Kelly Cup championship, on the strength of Gerald Coleman’s 28 saves and additional goals supplemented by Jordan Morrison and Sean Curry in the first two periods, quickly erasing leads posted by Cincinnati.
It took just 13 seconds for Josh Birkholz to put the Aces in a 1-0 hole after the opening face-off, stuffing a rebound high over Coleman’s glove after Dan Eves produced a chance off the rush with a backhander from the right circle.
Morrison’s ninth goal of the postseason, just 2:56 later, leveled the game at 1-1 on a backhander from the right dot that deflected off the Cyclones defense and snuck by Rob Madore’s pads.
Trevor Lewis’ fourth goal of the postseason, at 7:40 of the second period, restored the Cyclones lead momentarily on a rebound at the net, but the Aces responded on the ensuing shift.
Elson rolled out to the left circle and whipped a cross-ice pass to the tape of Curry, skating toward the right circle. Curry fired a shot under the bar, past Madore at 8:09 to tie the game at 2-2.
The Aces seized momentum and pounded Madore with 21 shots in the seconds period, and it took several key saves by Madore (including a breakaway by Evan Trupp) to the keep the game in the balance.
But in the third period, Richard’s first career postseason proved to be the difference. The ECHL All-Rookie defenceman pinched in and converted Morrison’s cross-ice pass to the right circle, re-directing the shot past Madore’s glove for a 3-2 lead with 5:55 left in regulation.
Elson then took Connolly’s relay with speed, driving the net with a shot off Madore’s pads that was quickly tucked in with 2:10 left for a 4-2 advantage.
Madore took the loss on 37 saves.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Zach Davies, John Ramage (one-game suspension), Andy Taranto, Ross Ring-Jarvi, Olivier Roy and James Martin ... the Aces outshot Cincinnati, 41-30 and killed off four penalties in the opening period (7-of-7 on the penalty kill) … Elson earned his sixth goal in the last nine postseason games … Coleman improved to 7-3, lifetime in the Kelly Cup Finals … Birkholz’s goal was the second fastest in Kelly Cup Finals history, after the opening face-off … the Aces improved to 8-2 on the road in the playoffs.
KELLY CUP FINALS - ALASKA VS. CINCINNATI
GAME 1 – Alaska takes a 1-0 series lead with a 5-3 win
GAME 2 - Cincinnati ties the series up at 1-1 with a 2-1 win
GAME 3 - Alaska takes a 2-1 series lead with a 2-0 win
GAME 4 - Cincinnati ties the series with a 3-1 win
GAME 5 - Alaska takes a 3-2 series lead with a 4-2 win
GAME 6 - Alaska at Cincinnati (U.S. Bank Arena) - Mon. 6/9, *
GAME 7 - Cincinnati at Alaska (Sullivan Arena) - Wed. 6/11, *