DALY CITY, Calif. – Bobby Hughes recorded his second straight two-goal game and added an assist to lead the Alaska Aces to a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Bulls at the Cow Palace on Saturday night in Game 5 of their opening round series. With the victory, the Aces won the Western Conference Quarterfinals series four games to one, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the ninth time in ten seasons since joining the ECHL. The loss for the Bulls ended their expansion season.
The Bulls scored the first goal of the game for the second straight game on their first power play goal of the series. Bryan Cameron beat Gerald Coleman top shelf from just outside the left corner of the crease at 15:34. TheAces quickly tied the score when Bobby Hughes took a pass from Alex Imbeault in front of the net and tapped the puck over Thomas Heemskerk at 18:03 to make it 1-1. The Bulls outshot the Aces 11-8 and the game remained tied into the first intermission.
The Aces pulled away in the second period with the only two goals of the frame. Alaska went on a power play after a San Francisco goal was disallowed at 6:16, when Jordan Morrison was whistled for goaltender interference. On the man-advantage Hughes scored his second of the game from the right circle after a Steve Ward shot hit the post and caromed to Hughes. Alaska then added to their lead on an Alex Hudson goal on a three-on-two rush at 14:38, making it 3-1 Aces at second intermission. Alaska outshot San Francisco 15-7 in the period.
The Aces extended their lead to 4-1 on a power play when Garry Nunn redirected a shot from the slot past Heemskerk 3:37 into the third period. For the second straight night, however, SanFrancisco gave a valiant comeback effort in the final period. Peter Sivak and Dean Ouellet scored to close the gap to one-goal late in the frame. The Bulls pulled Heemskerk in an effort to extend the game and their season, but Zach Harrison ended the comeback effort with an empty net goal at 18:58 to give the Aces a 5-3 win and clinch the series victory.
Gerald Coleman (2-1) earned the win, making 27 saves on 30 shots. Thomas Heemskerk (1-3) made 27 saves on 31 shots and took the loss. The Aces went 2-6 on the power play, while the Bulls went 1-4. The Aces outshot the Bulls 32-30 in the game.
The top-seeded Aces will now take on either the Stockton Thunder or Las Vegas Wranglers, who play Game 7 of their opening-round series on Sunday afternoon. Regardless of the opponent, Games 1 & 2 of the second round series will be played at Sullivan Arena on Friday and Saturday.