DALY CITY — Back-to-back second-period goals by the Alaska Aces sunk the San Francisco Bulls in Game 3 of their first-round Kelly Cup playoff series against the ECHL’s top team.
The Aces bounced back from Thomas Heemskerk’s Game 2 shutout with a 4-1 win Thursday, taking a 2-1 series lead over the Bulls.
Top-seeded Alaska jumped on the board first when Alex Hudson beat Heemskerk with a quick snapper on the rush at the 2:58 mark of the second. The Aces entered the game 34-0-6 when scoring the first goal.
Steve Ward added to the Aces’ lead less than four minutes later when he fired the puck under the crossbar from the high slot.
The Bulls entered the second intermission down 2-0 against the ECHL’s second-stingiest team (the Aces allowed 172 goals this year, one fewer than South Carolina) and the odds were stacked against them. In the past three years, the Aces are 116-0-7 when leading after two periods of play.
The climb steepened roughly six minutes into the third when Nick Mazzolini found a few inches of daylight between Heemskerk’s right shoulder, the crossbar and the right post to make the score 3-0.
Again, the Bulls faced discouraging odds. The Aces took the ice with a 38-2-2 record when scoring more than three goals.
The Bulls finally got on the board at the 8:43 mark of the third period when Jordan Morrison threw the puck in front of the net from behind the goal and it redirected off an Aces player for a score.
Peter Sivak, who was playing his first game in a Bulls jersey after a stint with the Worcester Sharks, picked up an assist on the play as did rookie forward Christian Ouellet.
The Bulls and Aces will return to action at the Cow Palace for Game 4 today and Game 5 on Saturday.
If necessary, games 6 and 7 would be played back in Alaska.