Game 52: Elmira Jackals (9-35-6-1) vs. Alaska Aces (25-18-1-6)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Alaska Aces make a rare appearance at First Arena Thursday night as the Jackals open their sixth consecutive three-in-three. It's the first time since Nov. 24-26, 2010 that the Aces visit the Jackals and will be the third all-time meeting between the clubs.
Alaska is opening a 10-game road trip, which continues in Manchester Saturday and Sunday. The Aces have just one win in their last nine games (1-6-0-2), falling to 25-18-1-6 on the season and barely holding on to the final playoff spot in the Mountain Division with 57 points.
The Jackals are winless over the last 15 games (0-13-1-1) and are now 9-35-6-1 on the season. Tonight begins what is now a five-game homestand, including the resumption of their suspended game with Reading Feb. 28. With 25 points, the Jackals are in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight is the Jackals second Save-A-Lot Thursday of the season. The Elmira Save-A-Lot location has vouchers for a free kids ticket to tonight's game (good with the purchase of an adult ticket).
In addition, there are special concessions deals tonight. Hot dogs and Miller Lite Pounders are on sale for just $2 each and tonight's special item of the night is a Chicago Style Hot Dog, which is also just $2. There is a limited supply of "Chicago Dogs" which are all-beef hot dogs on a poppy seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.
Last time out
Mark Dekanich stopped all 33 Jackals shots and the Reading Royals shut out Elmira, 2-0, Sunday Feb. 19 for their second shutout win against the Jackals this season.
The Jackals had their opportunities throughout the game, but they couldn't solve Dekanich, who recorded his first shutout of the season. The eventual game-winning goal came 11:06 into the first period as Tyrell Goulbourne buried a rebound from near the left circle to give Reading a 1-0 lead. A would-be tying goal later in the period for the Jackals was negated due to an incidental contact on the goalie call, which kept the Royals lead at one.
Elmira controlled play in the second, but couldn't find an equalizer and then Reading opened a 2-0 lead 48 seconds into the third period on a Ryan Penny power-play goal from the right circle. That would hold up as the final score as the Royals swept a weekend set against the Jackals.
The Jackals were shut out by the Reading Royals Feb. 19, 2-0, which was the ninth time in 2016-17 that Elmira has been held scoreless. By comparison, last year's Jackals team was shut out just four times all season.
Since joining the ECHL prior to the 2007-08 season, this year's nine shutouts match the 2013-14 Jackals team for the most in a single-season in team history.
Seven of the nine shutouts have come on the road, including one in each of the last two weeks.
Home and away
The Jackals have played more road games (31) and fewer home games (20) than every team in the ECHL heading into the week. That means over the final 21 games of the season, the Jackals have 16 home games and five road games remaining on their schedule.
The Jackals are winless in their last 11 road games, their longest drought of the season, falling to 3-23-4-1 away from First Arena. The winless over 11 games has tied the Indy Fuel for the longest winless streak on the road this season. In fact, the Jackals have lost eight straight road games on three separate occasions and have 52 goals for as opposed to 127 goals against in 31 road matches.
In 20 home games, the Jackals are 6-12-2-0, with four straight home losses, and have a -14 goal differential, with 57 goals for and 72 goals against. Despite playing 11 fewer home games, the Jackals have scored five more goals on home ice.
It's been a while
Over the last six games, all away from home during which the Jackals are 0-4-1-1, the Jackals have never held a lead. Their last lead came Feb. 4 at home late in the second period against Brampton. The Beast scored three goals in three minutes to erase that Jackals lead and Elmira hasn't led since.
Not including Friday's suspended game against Reading, another game Elmira didn't hold a lead, the Jackals have played 391:00 consecutive minutes without holding a lead. If you add the 13:53 from Friday, that swells to 404:53 of on-ice time that the Jackals have either been tied or trailing since they led a game.
Tonight is just Alaska's second trip to First Arena ever and the first since Nov. 24-26, 2010. It will be the third match between the clubs, with each team earning a win in that 2010 series.
The Jackals opened up the series Nov. 24, 2010 with a 2-1 victory, but the Aces came back with a 5-3 win in Elmira two days later.
Scouting the Aces
The Aces enter the week winless over their last five games (0-4-0-1) and with just two wins over their last 10 games. At 25-18-1-6, Alaska has 57 points and is fourth place in the Mountain Division. Their hold over the final playoff spot in the Mountain is tenuous, with just a one-point cushion on Utah and a two-point lead on Missouri although they do have a game in hand on both teams.
Alaska has two prolific scorers leading the team this season, with Stephen Perfetto tops with 61 points (25g, 36a) in just 44 games. He ranks sixth in the ECHL in scoring and his teammate, Peter Sivak is ninth in the league with 59 points (32g, 27a), including a league-high 32 goals in just 42 games. Sivak is tops on the team with seven game-winning goals and seven power-play goals.
In net Kevin Carr has appeared in 29 games for the Aces, posting a 12-12-1-2 record with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. He has one shutout as does rookie Michael Garteig, who is 10-6-0-2 in 20 appearances. Garteig has a 3.01 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
The Aces are 25th in the ECHL on the power play at 12.6%, going 24-for-191 on the season, but they are last on the road at 10.2% (9-for-88).
The Jackals went 0-for-6 on the power play last week, falling to 24-for-165 (14.5%) on the season, ranking 22nd in the ECHL. At First Arena, the Jackals are in the top 10 in the league, converting on 18.9% of their chances.
Alaska's penalty kill is in the middle of the pack in the ECHL, ranking 13th at 82.7% by allowing 36 power-play goals in 208 chances. They are tops in the league on the road at 87.4%, giving up just 12 road power-play goals in 95 shorthanded situations.
The Jackals went 3-for-4 on the penalty kill in both games against Reading last weekend. Overall, Elmira is 24th in the ECHL on the kill at 79.2%, although they are significantly better at home, stopping 84.7% of opposition power plays.