Champion Aces Head to Playoffs
Head Coach Murray co-recipient of Coach of the Year award
ANCHORAGE - Alaska Aces head coach Rob Murray was named co-recipient for the Coach of the Year award this week and now he’s leading the top-seeded ECHL team into the playoffs.
The Kelly Cup champions are ready to defend their title. Murray said last year’s win has pushed the team forward.
"I think that helped us going into the season because early in the season the continuity of the team, the returning guys, it really helped us get off to a good start and carry us through the season.”
Before July 13, 2011, when Murray took a head coach job for the local ECHL team, he played 16 seasons in the NHL, starting with his first time – the Washington Capitals in 1985 – but retired following the 2002-03 season. Immediately after he took a job on the coaching staff on the AHL Providence Bruins team, where he remained for eight years.
But despite a lifetime of experience, the 44-year-old coach still felt the pressure.
“There was a lot of pressure,” said Murray. “I mean I came in, and with a team winning the championship last year, I can't lie – there was pressure and people let me know about it too.”
The Aces receive a first round bye and are feeling good getting much needed rest they normally wouldn’t get, according to Murray.
Right wing Wes Goldie said he's ready for the challenge ahead.
"It's a mental game. There's going to be a lot of roller coasters ups and downs, but it's keeping an even keel over the playoffs, not getting too low and recovering from lows as quickly as possible.”
Joining Goldie on the ice will be the 6’1” defensemen, 24-year-old Kane Lafranchise, who started late last season and didn't play a single game for the Aces in last year's playoffs. These days he is excited to fight for the cup on home ice.
“I just have to keep doing what I do and a lot of the guys are thinking the same thing. It's the playoffs, it's more pressure, but you try not to let it get to your head and just keep playing the way you are.”
The Aces will face off against the Colorado Eagles or Stockton Thunder in their first game of the playoffs on Friday the 13th. Tickets are on sale now.