ANCHORAGE, AK -- Jordan Morrison buried two goals and added an assist while Gerald Coleman’s relief effort turned aside all 13 shots to rally the Alaska Aces over the Cincinnati Cyclones in a 5-3 victory at Sullivan Arena in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Friday.
Morrison, who led the Aces out of a 3-1 hole in the second period, lifted Alaska to its fifth Kelly Cup Finals win in six games and a 6-2 record at home this postseason. The electrified crowd enjoyed a two assist effort from Alex Belzile while Brett Findlay supplemented the Aces offense with a goal and an assist.
Amidst the rowdy Cowbell Crew, the Aces swarmed the Cincinnati net in the opening minutes and seized a 1-0 lead on Nick Mazzolini’s 10th goal of the postseason, just 74 seconds into the game. Mazzolini converted on Evan Trupp’s feed from the right corner, beating Rob Madore five-hole from between the circles.
Aces starter Olivier Roy made nine saves in the first period including a breakaway save on Dan Eves with six minutes elapsed.
Wade Megan’s power play goal, a one-timer from the right circle, leveled the score at 1-1 with 14:38 left, starting a wild second period where the two teams combined for five goals (one off the Finals record). Barry Almeida caught the Aces scrambling and walked out to the right circle, roofing his second goal at 7:18 and followed by Logan Shaw’s third goal on wraparound to Roy’s blocker side for a 3-1 lead.
The rally completed a Cyclones run of three goals in 6:09, chasing Roy (injured before the Shaw goal) in favor of Coleman.
The netminder, backstopping the Aces to a Kelly Cup title in 2011, was true to form and helped lead the Aces to a rally of four unanswered goals. Brett Findlay centered Morrison, who blistered a one-timer past Madore at 16:36 and Findlay completed Alex Belzile’s feed at the net with 46 seconds left in the second period, tying the game at 3-3 while sending Sullivan Arena into pandemonium.
Morrison then beat Madore, glove side on a fake attempt, followed by a snap shot to the upper corner at 8:45 of the third period for a 4-3 lead. The Aces forced Cincinnati into penalty trouble late in the game, but needed a clearing attempt from a face-off in their own zone to seal the game on Turner Elson’s empty net, power play goal with 18 seconds remaining.
Madore, who has played every minute in Cincinnati’s postseason run, made 37 saves in the loss.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, Brendan Connolly, Peter Sivak and James Martin ... Elson and Mazzolini extended their goal scoring streaks to five straight games … the Aces outshot Cincinnati, 42-28 and have outshot their opponent in every game in the playoffs … the Aces improved to 23-7, lifetime in Game 1 scenarios and 2-1 in the Kelly Cup Finals (all at home).
KELLY CUP FINALS - ALASKA VS. CINCINNATI
GAME 1 – Alaska takes a 1-0 series lead with a 5-3 win
GAME 2 - Cincinnati at Alaska (Sullivan Arena) - Sat. 5/31,
GAME 3 - Cincinnati at Alaska (Sullivan Arena) - Mon. 6/2,
GAME 4 - Alaska at Cincinnati (U.S. Bank Arena) - Fri. 6/6,
GAME 5 - Alaska at Cincinnati (U.S. Bank Arena) - Sat. 6/7, *
GAME 6 - Alaska at Cincinnati (U.S. Bank Arena) - Mon. 6/9, *
GAME 7 - Cincinnati at Alaska (Sullivan Arena) - Wed. 6/11, *