Devils center has goal, assist in ECHL game
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Scott Gomez scored a shootout goal and added a second-period assist in his ECHL debut, leading the Alaska Aces to a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Gulls on Friday night.
Gomez, a center with the New Jersey Devils, got the Aces even through four rounds of the shootout when he beat goalie Trevor Koenig between the pads.
At 18:50 of the second period, Gomez set up Chris Minard's goal that tied the game 2-all. Making plays is what Gomez is best known for. He led the NHL with 56 assists in 80 games last season.
He was chosen as the second star of the game.
"I'm absolutely exhausted, but at least we got the two points," Gomez said.
Gomez, the NHL rookie of the year in 2000, attended East High School in Anchorage. He signed a $500-a-week contract with the Aces on Monday for the duration of the NHL lockout.
After the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players association expired on Sept. 15, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed the lockout that threatens the entire season.
While 236 NHL players have signed to play in Europe during the labor dispute, the 24-year-old Gomez is one of only two veterans who agreed to minor league contracts in North America.
"It was awesome hockey, a great atmosphere," Gomez said. "It was a fast-paced game played between two very good teams."
As soon as the hometown favorite inked his deal, the Aces sold 250 tickets for Friday's game and 25 season tickets. Gomez didn't disappoint the 6,453 fans -- a sellout crowd -- as the Aces (1-2-0) won their first home opener in eight years.
Gomez, a first-round draft pick of the Devils in 1998 and a member of Stanley Cup championship teams in 2000 and '04, was awarded a one-year, $2.9 million contract for this season in arbitration in August. Players are not paid by NHL teams during the lockout.
Gomez earned $1 million last season when he also scored 14 goals.
Former NHL player Billy Tibbetts scored his second goal of the season to give San Diego a 2-1 lead in the second period. He also scored a shootout goal, that put the Gulls ahead in the second round.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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