Monsters Become Rivals in ECHL Playoffs

Thursday night kicked off the ECHL Western Conference Finals, the Alaska Aces took the ice against the Las Vegas Wranglers in Game 1 of the best of seven series. The game ended with the Aces on top 2-1 and a one game lead heading into Game 2 on Friday night. It all seemed like just another well scripted hockey match-up in ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs; but a closer look reveals another, more complicated storyline, one where not only have uniforms changed, but teammates have become opponents.

Following the end of the Lake Erie Monsters season, Barry Goers and Peter MacArthur returned to Las Vegas to suit-up for the Wranglers and join the quest for an ECHL championship. Missing the first round, Goers and MacArthur rejoined in the Western Conference Semifinals to help the Wranglers overcome the Idaho Steelheads and advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Facing off against Idaho, Goers and MacArthur, like many times before, battled against familiar opponents that they had seen time and again on the ice of the AHL, but it wasn't until Thursday night against Alaska did the two find themselves shelling the puck directly at an all too familiar netminder - former Monsters goalie Gerald Coleman.

Coleman signed with the Monsters in January and played 17 games for the Monsters this season before heading to Alaska. Coleman grabbed 486 SVS with a .922 SV% and an overall record of 11-4-2-0. But Coleman wasn't the only former Monsters netminder on the Alaska roster Thursday night - James Reid also dressed for the Aces and served as Coleman's backup. MacArthur and Goers combined for five of the 26 shots on Coleman in the first match-up.

And it can only get more interesting! If the Las Vegas were to comeback and defeat the Alaska Aces AND the Kalamazoo Wings can defeat the Florida Everblades and take the Eastern Conference Championship, then MacArthur and Goers would again find themselves ending the season on the same ice as Dean Strong, only this time competing against each other in the Kelly Cup Finals.

Goers, MacArthur, Strong, Coleman and Reid may have not spent an entire season on the same team, but for many there is a unique bond created when athletes share the ice and bare the emblem of the same team. The consistent shifting of players among leagues is one of the more fascinating realities of hockey; when one season ends another one resumes and within hours, teammates become rivals.

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