ANCHORAGE, AK -- Jordan Morrison’s wrist shot beat Laurent Brossoit with 2:29 left in regulation to lift the Alaska Aces in a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over the Bakersfield Condors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final on Friday at Sullivan Arena.
The Aces, who moved to within three wins of advancing to their fourth appearance in the Kelly Cup Final, erased their first deficit after two periods on goals by Morrison and Evan Trupp.
Calgary Flames prospect Olivier Roy improved to 5-0 in the postseason with 25 saves in net, defeating Brossoit in a matchup between goaltenders involved in a November transaction between the Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
With the two teams squaring off in postseason play for the first time since 2007, a tight-checking approach marked the opening period with the Aces outshooting Bakersfield, 14-8. After surrendering the first three shots in the game, and extinguishing an early Bakersfield power play, the Aces roared back to own the next 8 of 9 shots in the game.
Chris Collins broke the ice with his second goal of the playoffs for a 1-0 lead with 5:15 left in the second period. Collins took Matt Thurber’s relay at the left wing and snuck a wrist shot through Roy’s five-hole, through traffic.
Ex-Condor Trupp’s fifth goal in the last six postseason games, just 53 seconds into the third period, leveled the game at 1-1 when Kane Lafranchise set him up for a wrist shot in the slot which Brossoit turned away, but Trupp dug away for the rebound at the crease.
A giveaway by the Bakersfield defence to Trupp, behind the net turned into a scoring chance for Morrison late in the game for the lead. John Ramage faked a shot in the slot, then feathered a perfect feed onto Morrison’s tape at the left circle. The Aces veteran lifted a wrist shot under the crossbar, before Brossoit could over the post, with 2:29 left to send Sullivan Arena into bedlam.
The Aces had to turn away one last rush by Bakersfield, which included a 6-on-4 situation with Connolly off for a hooking penalty and Brossoit pulled for an extra attacker. But Roy turned away two chances at the net in the final seconds, and Nick Mazzolini cleared the puck to drain the clock.
Brossoit took the loss on 33 saves.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, Andy Taranto, Peter Sivak and Ross Ring-Jarvi ... the Aces improved to 9-1 in the postseason … they also improved to 8-2, all-time in the Kelly Cup Playoffs vs. Bakersfield and won their sixth consecutive playoff game in the matchup … the Aces won their 91st all-time Kelly Cup Playoff game, an ECHL record.
The two teams square off in Game 2 on Saturday at Sullivan Arena, beginning at 9:15 PM MST.
KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GAME 1 - Aces win 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead
GAME 2 - at Alaska, Saturday, 5/17 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST
GAME 3 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Friday, 5/23 (Rabobank Arena) – 8:00 PM MST
GAME 4 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Saturday, 5/24 (Rabobank Arena) – 8:00 PM MST
GAME 5 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Sunday, 5/25 (Rabobank Arena) - TBA *
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