The chirping was strong
The outdoor hockey rink the Alaska Aces practiced on Wednesday morning for an hour long game of trash talking 4 on 4 did not have blue lines painted on the ice, so determining whether a play was onside was left to the honor system.
Fun, and abundant chirping, though, abounded.
Consider the debate between head coach Rob Murray, who played for the side in black jerseys, and assistant coach defenseman Patrick Wellar, who played for the side in white jerseys. Their conversation stemmed from Wellar’s lovely deflection goal, which he attributed to abundant artistry and Murray chalked up solely to puck luck.
Murray’s argument: “When you’re looking at the mountains, and your stick just happens to be on the ice, and the puck happens to hit it, don’t claim that was a skill play.”
Wellar’s retort: “You can’t teach that. Some people have it. I have it.”
Wellar, the quintessential stay at home defenseman, does not have a goal in 32 ECHL games this season just sayin’.
In any event, Murray said the Aces in his five seasons behind the bench have practiced outdoors once a season. Murray said team captain William Wrenn suggested the outdoor practice earlier this week. After a hard indoor practice Tuesday, Murray figured the time was right for a fun practice outside.
No drills, no chalk talk, no teaching, very little defense or vigorous back checking just straight up shinny, or pick up, hockey, with everyone cherry picking breakaways and odd man rushes.
“Our own Winter Classic,” said Aces trainer Scooter McLay.
## ## But don’t mistake it as a “return to roots” practice, said Murray, 48. He pointed out that even his generation grew up playing hockey almost entirely indoors.
Defenseman Garrett Haar is a California boy, for instance. He said he thinks his only previous hockey on an outdoor rink came on a trip to Ottawa when he was perhaps 12, so he enjoyed his time Wednesday on the Bonnie Cusack Memorial North Rink adjacent to Ben Boeke Arena.
“It’s way better than being inside,” said defenseman Garrett Haar. “You’ve got the mountains and the trees (on the adjacent Chester Creek greenbelt). Perfect temperature not too cold, not too warm.
“All the boys were in a good mood, so we were all pretty chipper and trying to get under each other’s skin.”
The teams played a best of 7 series, with victory in each game earned by the first team to reach three goals.
The white team scored three goals on basically the same shift to win Game 6 “Worst shift ever,” Wellar of the white team informed the black team and forced a decisive Game 7.