BAKERSFIELD, CA -- Nick Mazzolini scored 13 seconds into the game and the Alaska Aces ripped off three goals in the first 4:06 to cruise to a 4-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors, tying the Western Conference Final series at 2-2 before 5,661 fans at Rabobank Arena on Saturday.
The win guaranteed the series to return to Alaska for Game 6 next Tuesday and the Aces were buoyed by Gerald Coleman’s 24 saves. Mazzolini earned two goals and an assist (all in the first period), while Kane Lafranchise and Turner Elson each scored a goal.
From the opening face-off, the Aces overwhelmed the Condors on high-quality scoring chances. John Ramage’s outlet hit Brendan Connolly, who relayed to Mazzolini. The Aces captain buried a snapshot past Laurent Brossoit from the right circle for a 1-0 lead.
Lafranchise then connected with Mazzolini for his second goal of the game, at 2:51 when Mazzolini went to the goal mouth and finished Lafranchise’s pass from the right corner. Lafranchise boosted the Aces lead to 3-0 at 4:06, on Alaska’s first power play goal of the series (breaking an 0-of-16 skid).
Evan Trupp found Mazzolini in the corner, who hit Lafranchise on the tape with a centering pass that was re-directed past Brossoit’s blocker.
The Aces cruised to the end of the first period and Bakersfield got on the board with Joel Broda’s power play goal, a snapper from the insider of the right circle, at 10:12. But Elson responded by restoring the Aces three-goal lead when Ramage fed him with an outlet pass and beat Brossoit with a wrist shot through traffic with 4:30 left in the period.
The Aces allowed only eight shots on net in the third period and closed the game after Collin Bowman took a holding penalty with 3:19 left.
Brossoit, allowing eight goals in the last two games, took the loss on 29 saves.
NOTES: The Aces scratched Brad Richard, Drew MacKenzie, Brett Findlay, Peter Sivak and Ross Ring-Jarvi ... the Aces have won six of their last seven road playoff games and improved to 9-4, lifetime in the Kelly Cup Playoffs against Bakersfield … the Aces outshot Bakersfield, 33-25 … Trupp, a former Condor, leads the Aces with seven points in the series.
KELLY CUP PLAYOFFS – WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
GAME 1 - Aces win 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead
GAME 2 - Condors win 3-2 in OT to tie the series 1-1
GAME 3 - Condors win 5-4 to take a 2-1 series lead
GAME 4 - Aces win 4-1 to tie the series 2-2
GAME 5 - Alaska at Bakersfield, Sunday, 5/25 (Rabobank Arena) - TBA *
GAME 6 - at Alaska, Tuesday, 5/27 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
GAME 7 - at Alaska, Wednesday, 5/28 (Sullivan Arena) - 9:15 PM MST *
* If necessary
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