Aces clinch playoff berth with shootout win

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Aces clinched a playoff berth for the quickest time in team history with a 3-2 shootout win over the Stockton Thunder on Saturday night from Sullivan Arena. Alaska stretched their point streak to six games, and their winning streak over the Thunder to seven straight. Alaska upped their record to 34-11-5 on the season, and climbed within one point of the Ontario Reign.

The Aces have secured a trip to the ECHL postseason for the tenth time in ten seasons since joining the league.

For the second straight night neither team scored in the opening period. Alaska outshot Stockton 9-4. The period was highlighted by a heavyweight fight between Alaska’s Sean Curry and Stockton’s Cameron Abney who both are 6’5″.

The scoreless game didn’t last long in the second period. Maxime Boisclair scored 33 seconds into the period to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead. Alaska answered on a beautiful goal as Chris Clackson deked around Stockton defenseman Mike Little and fed Bobby Hughes in the slot where Hughes tallied his eighth of the season at 6:34. The teams went into the third period tied 1-1.

The Aces took their first lead in the third period when Spencer Bennett scored his first goal with Alaska. Bennett let a slapshot go from just inside the blue line that caromed off the glove of Thunder goaltender Tyler Bunz and into the net behind him at 8:54.

Stockton forced overtime on a power play goal when Teigan Zahn scored at 13:47. After a scoreless remainder of regulation and overtime, the game went to a shootout. After the first five shooters were denied, Stockton took a lead in the third round. However, Garry Nunn scored his first shootout goal since 2010 to tie it in the fourth round, and then Tommy Mele pulled off a highlight-reel spin-around move to put Alaska up in the fifth round. Gerald Coleman stopped Gabriel Levesque as Stockton’s fifth shooter to seal the win.

Gerald Coleman (17-4-1) made 16 saves on 18 shots and stopped four of five in the shootout in the win. Tyler Bunz (11-11-4) made 30 saves on 32 shots, and stopped three of five in the shootout in the loss. The Aces went 0-2 on the power play and the Thunder were 1-2. Alaska outshot Stockton 33-18 in the game.

The Aces and Thunder close their three-game weekend on Sunday afternoon.

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