They Must Do Home Ice Advantage Differently In Alaska

Being a member of the Alaska Aces isn't easy.  Besides suffering through Anchorage winters, the team is 1,800 miles away from their nearest opponent, which means long flights and even longer road trips.  Twice this year the team had to take two week road trips to play in such exotic locations as Bakersfield, California and West Valley City, Utah. 

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In spite of the inherent disadvantages, however, Alaska's only professional sports franchise has persevered.  In the last four years, Alaska has been to the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals twice, winning the Cup in 2005-2006 under now-St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne.

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Life on the frontier is never easy, even for hockey teams, but the Aces know what they're up against at the start of every season.  However, the playoff format that they have to face is just ridiculous:

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Quarterfinal Series
#6 Stockton Thunder (Oilers) vs #3 Alaska Aces (Blues)

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BEST-OF-FIVE:
Game 1: Stockton at Alaska - Monday, April 5
Game 2: Stockton at Alaska - Tuesday, April 6
Game 3: Alaska at Stockton - Friday, April 9
Game 4: Alaska at Stockton - Saturday, April 10*
Game 5: Alaska at Stockton - Monday, April 12*
* If necessary

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That's right - Alaska is the higher seed and has to play three games on the road, should the series go to five games.  Not only are they getting the visitor's schedule, their home games are back-to-back. 

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And as if all of these challenges weren't enough, due to a scheduling conflict in the Sullivan Arena, they cannot play games one and two in Anchorage.  The Aces and Thunder are playing 45 minutes north in Wasilla (home of former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin) at the Menard Center.  The ECHL is redefining "home ice advantage".

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