For the 20th time in their ECHL history, the Aces have won a postseason series. And for the 7th time over that span of 11 seasons, Alaska will play in the conference finals.
Alex Belzile and Brendan Connolly scored goals for the Aces in Thursday's 2-1 series clinching win over the Idaho Steelheads in game five of the Western Conference Semifinals. Alaska takes the series, four games to one.
Unlike Wednesday's win in which the Aces led 4-0 after one period and held a 45-20 edge in shots on goal, Idaho played solid and desperate in an attempt to keep its season alive. Brett Robinson scored in the second period to give the Steelheads a 1-0 lead, and Idaho took 27 shots on goal, to Alaska's 32.
Belzile tied the game with his second goal of the series only seven minutes later, and just 29 seconds into the third, Connolly fired the puck off Idaho goaltender Josh Robinson and in for his second of the postseason. Gerald Coleman got the victory in net for the Aces, stopping 26 of 27 shots.
The Aces will open the ECHL's Western Conference Finals next Friday night against either Stockton or Bakersfield. The Condors lead that series, two games to one with game four set for Friday.