Isherwood helps Aces to ECHL title

On Thursday afternoon, Mark Isherwood and his Alaska Aces teammates hopped on a plane and took a sight-seeing flight around Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. It was a fitting end to what was an ascendant hockey season for the 22-year-old defenceman from Abbotsford.

Abbotsford native Mark Isherwood hoisted the Kelly Cup with his Alaska Aces teammates.

Abbotsford native Mark Isherwood hoisted the Kelly Cup with his Alaska Aces teammates.

On Thursday afternoon, Mark Isherwood and his Alaska Aces teammates hopped on a plane and took a sight-seeing flight around Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America.

It was a fitting end to what was an ascendant hockey season for the 22-year-old defenceman from Abbotsford.

Isherwood was a key cog as the Anchorage-based squad won the Kelly Cup championship, emblematic of ECHL supremacy.

The Aces were ridiculously dominant in the playoffs, going 12-1 to set a league record for fewest losses in a single post-season. They clinched the title last Saturday, defeating the Kalamazoo Wings 5-3 to seal a five-game series win.

Isherwood’s first season of professional hockey was also highlighted by individual accolades. He led ECHL rookie blueliners in goals (15) and points (35) in 70 regular season games, and was named to the league’s all-rookie team.

“I don’t think you can ask for much more,” Isherwood enthused, speaking to The News via cellphone. “I mean, I love winning, and I got to do a lot of that here.

“This has been one of my best years of hockey. I may never play with these guys again, but I’ll always remember this team. It was a special team, and going 12-1 in the playoffs is pretty sweet.”

The last time Isherwood celebrated a championship was back in 2007, when his Medicine Hat Tigers edged the Vancouver Giants in seven games for the Western Hockey League crown. But Isherwood was a youngster on a veteran Tigers squad, and didn’t dress for any playoff games.

This time around, he was a key contributor in the Aces’ championship run, which made it more meaningful.

“I was a big part of it – on the ice, and wearing my jersey when we got to lift up the Cup,” he said. “It was pretty special.”

Upon returning to Anchorage this week, Isherwood and his teammates have been experiencing Alaskan culture to an extent they might not have been able to during the season. In addition to the McKinley flight, Isherwood said the squad is slated to do some halibut fishing this weekend before dispersing for the summer.

They’ve also taken the opportunity to celebrate the title.

“All the young guys on the team live in an apartment complex together,” he explained. “So we brought (the Kelly Cup) back to the apartment the other day and just sat at the side of the road, letting fans come by and take pictures with it. We had fans honking all day.”

Isherwood suited up for one season (2005-06) with the junior B Abbotsford Pilots, and played four full WHL campaigns with Medicine Hat before turning pro.

He signed a one-year deal the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen last summer, and attended rookie camp with the NHL parent St. Louis Blues in September before being reassigned to the Aces.

Isherwood is a free agent this summer, and while he’d like to move up to full-time AHL duty, he’d be open to a return to Alaska.

“I’ll wait and see how it goes,” he said. “I’ll come back home and see my family and friends, and make a decision from there. “My goal is to keep moving up, because I want to make a living playing hockey. I definitely want to move up, but if I can’t, Alaska’s definitely a place I’d come back to.”


• Isherwood’s run to the Kelly Cup is among a series of impressive post-season accomplishments by Abbotsford hockey prospects.

Nathan Lieuwen, a goalie with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice, is at the Memorial Cup in Mississauga, Ont. this week. He backstopped the Ice to a 1-2 record during round robin play at the national junior hockey championship tourney. Kootenay plays the Owen Sound Attack in a tiebreaker game on Thursday evening, with the winner advancing to the semifinals.

• Derek Grant’s first taste of pro hockey has yielded a trip to the Calder Cup finals. The Abbotsford forward signed his first pro contract with the Ottawa Senators in early March, following his sophomore season at Michigan State University. He was assigned to the Binghamton Senators, Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, and has helped the team make its way to the league finals, where they face the Houston Aeros. The series opens on Friday in Houston.

Grant has suited up for just seven of the Senators’ 17 playoff games, posting one goal and one assist. But he made his goal count – it came at the 4:03 mark of overtime, during Game 2 of the Senators’ first-round series against the Manchester Monarchs, lifting Binghamton to a 4-3 win.

Just Posted

Students from W. J. Mouat Secondary hold the banner they earned for taking top spot at the recent national Let’s Talk Career competition. (Submitted photo)
Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford wins national Let’s Talk Careers competition

School among 245 across nation that competed to be named ‘Canada’s Most Informed’

Chilliwack Fire Department on scene at a house fire on Boundary Road and No. 4 Road on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (David Seltenrich/ Facebook)
Fire crews respond to house fire on border of Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Flames, dark smoke reported coming from front of house when crews arrived

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson believes the new Abbotsford franchise is off to a strong early start. (AHL photo)
AHL president: ‘Tremendous success’ selling season ticket deposits for Abbotsford franchise

President and CEO Scott Howson optimistic about new Vancouver Canucks affiliate in Abbotsford

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Himalayan Life helped finance the construction of Nepal’s Yangri Academic Centre and dormitories after a 2015 earthquake devastated the valley, killing more than 9,000 people. (Screen grab/Peter Schaeublin)
B.C. charity founder pledges to rebuild Nepalese school swept away by flash floods

6 years after a catastrophic earthquake killed more than 9,000 people, Nepal gets hit again

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read