Goalie Frank Doyle
enjoyed Alaska as a visitor. He's liking it even more as a temporary resident.
Doyle is dominating since his trade to the Alaska Aces from the Charlotte Checkers earlier this season. Overall, he's 13-4-2, is tied for first in the ECHL with a .921 save percentage and is second with a goals-against of 2.54.
That success is just a continuation of his track record there. He earned his first collegiate win for the University of Maine at a tournament in Alaska as a freshman in 2002-03. His first pro victory also came in Alaska, vs. the Aces while playing for Idaho in 2004-05.
"It is weird. I guess I was destined (to be there)," said Doyle, 29. "It's a beautiful place, obviously, up here. The rink is very loud. They have a good hockey following. It's a pretty exciting place to play. The main thing is I'm happy to be playing again."
Doyle, a veteran AHL netminder, kept coming up short in that department the first few months of the season. He played in Germany last season, but was stuck at home in Maine this season because no one was showing any interest in him.
He finally signed with Charlotte, only to get bumped out after five games there because the Checkers were relying upon a pair of contracted goalies. Doyle then gladly gave the thumbs up to a trade to Alaska and a fresh, yet familiar, start there.
"I played five games in Charlotte, never got into a good groove. I came here, was excited to be playing here," he said. "I feel like I'm playing the best hockey in my life right now. You learn more what it takes to be successful as a goalie. As a goalie, it's about living in the moment, not letting the other factors come into play. It's quite a turnaround to think a few short months ago I was sitting at home with no place to play."
Now, he has a place to do that, and possibly a lot more. Doyle said he's not much of an outdoorsman, but has been regaled with tales of Anchorage's natural wonders. It's enough to make him consider a stay in that city at least a little beyond whenever his season ends.
"All these people are saying it's great if you get a chance to stick around during the summer and try these things. I wouldn't mind sticking around a couple extra weeks," he said. "I just haven't been hunting and fishing before. I don't know about the hunting, but I'd like to try the fishing."
From forgettable to memorable
-- The Wheeling Nailers had a full day to both remember and forget on Feb. 6.
The night before, Wheeling played in Elmira. On the ride home, the team bus' transmission conked out in the wee hours of the morning on I-79 in Pittsburgh.
"Everyone was sleeping. Suddenly, we just stopped," Nailers forward Thomas Beauregard
said. "It wasn't comfortable at all."
The discomfort grew as the players' stomachs started to grumble. They piled out of the bus, trudged through the blizzard and found a Wendy's.
The players then went back to the bus and waited for help. It came in the forms of team presidents Rob and Jim Brooks, who got their SUVs and shuttled the players an hour back to Wheeling a few at a time. The last players didn't get home until about 4:30 p.m.
Of course, the Nailers had a home game against Kalamazoo that night, where they would have seemed like easy pickings.
Wrong. Led by T.J. Fox
's franchise record-tying seven points (2-5), Wheeling rolled to a 10-1 laugher.
"We thought the game was going to be cancelled at first," Beauregard said. "The weather was so bad. What can you do? You have a job to do. You play hockey. We had all the excuses in the world. We did a pretty good job."
Let's go to the video
-- Brendan Connolly's friends and family don't often get the chance to make the 40-hour drive from his hometown of Canmore, Alberta, to watch him play for the Elmira Jackals.
So the Jackals forward did something to make him easier to follow, at least for a few breathtaking seconds.
The 5-foot-6 Connolly added his name to YouTube's greatest hits
of hockey with a mad, end-to-end dash for a score against Wheeling on Feb. 5. Remarkably, all five Nailers had a shot at Connolly before he beat goalie Michael-Lee Teslak
Connolly has since been swarmed by messages from friends who saw the clip on YouTube and his Facebook page.
"I feel like I'm playing the best hockey in my life right now. You learn more what it takes to be successful as a goalie. As a goalie, it's about living in the moment, not letting the other factors come into play. It's quite a turnaround to think a few short months ago I was sitting at home with no place to play."
-- Frank Doyle
"It's still kind of surreal. I haven't done anything like that since I was 10-years-old," Connolly said of the dipsy-doodle. "It was pretty crazy at the time. For friends to see me on the Internet, they are pretty excited. It might be a one-time only thing. You don't really think about scoring goals like that every day."
Around the ECHL
-- Wheeling and Johnstown have met nine times this season, and six of those games have gone past regulation. ... Florida is 17-0-0 when leading after two periods. ... Despite outshooting their opponents by 101 shots in the second period, the Everblades have been outscored 57-53 in that span. ... All three of Bakersfield's overtime losses this season have come on power-play goals, including a 5-4 defeat at the hands of Alaska on Feb. 6. ... The Condors have surrendered the first goal in 11 of their last 12 games. ... Stockton center Chris D'Alvise scored the first natural hat trick in team history in a 4-1 win over Ontario on Feb. 5. ... Gwinnett's 5-3 win over Toledo on Feb. 5 was the Gladiators' first regulation victory at home in two months. ... Trenton's 4-1 win vs. Reading on Feb. 5 was the first time in nine tries this season that the Devils topped the Royals. ... Utah has taken 30 or more shots in each of its last 11 games. ... Victoria has played in four-consecutive shootouts (3-1) to improve to 6-1 on the season in that tiebreaker. ... The Salmon Kings' Wes Goldie
has tied Ryan Wade
's team record for career games played with 265. ... Elmira's 2-0 blanking of the Devils on Feb. 7 was the first shutout for the Jackals in 2009-2010. The Jackals were the last ECHL team to participate in a shutout this season, whether for or against. ... Elmira's 3-2 defeat of Reading on Feb. 6 was just the Jackals' second regulation win this season in which they scored fewer than four goals. ... Goaltender Matt Dalton
entered the week on a streak of 16-consecutive games played for the Royals. He has played 31 of the Royals’ last 37 games since he joined the team on Nov. 11.