The Alaska Aces are at the all-star break, but it doesn’t mean they’re taking one.
This time last year they’d have taken a win, any win, any way they could get it.
But a year later has provided great change for the better. At the season midpoint, the Aces find themselves with seven more victories than this time last year. Armed with extra wins, stronger goaltending and a 34-year-old all-star in Peter Sivak playing more like he’s 24, they’re in position to break a two-year playoff drought.
But they ended the first half losing four of six, including a 9 to 6 drubbing by Orlando on Saturday. It has head coach Rob Murray searching for more solid footing.
“We’re consistently inconsistent is what we are, and I think that it would be nice to string together a bunch of games and really kind of get that flow going,” Murray said.
Monday’s practice was partially “punishment,” he said. Not hard to understand when the word “conditioning” is used in the same sentence. They don’t play again until Friday, so it was a good time to get his guys’ attention.
He did. Bad loss Saturday, hard work Monday.
“Mood was a little low as you’d expect after something like that,” said left wing Tim Coffman. “I’ve seen guys a little more down, so it was nice to see just a hard working practice.”
But make no mistake, the Aces are in very good shape. If the regular season ended today, they’d be back in the post-season. Currently, they sit in fourth place in the Mountain Division, only five points out of first. They have games in hand on five of the other six teams in the division. Everyone feels they’ll finish the job and be playing extra hockey this year.
“We’re still sitting in playoffs, pretty good,” said Coffman, who is third on the team behind only Sivak and Stephen Perfetto in goals. “We started off hot, which helped us with this little rut we’re in right now. Maybe we have a week here to just decompress after a lot of hard games. Get back at it at Utah.”
It’s what everyone expects.