Soares enjoys comfort zone with ECHL’s Aces

Posted May 22, 2009, at 11:18 p.m.

Josh Soares has certainly become familiarized with hotel living this season.

The former University of Maine left wing has played with four different teams but has finally landed in an apartment.

And he has helped lead the Alaska Aces into the ECHL’s Kelly Cup finals where they met his former four-year University of Maine teammate Keith Johnson’s South Carolina Stingrays in the opener of their best-of-seven championship series Friday night.

Soares and linemate Colin Hemingway are leading the ECHL playoffs in scoring with 22 points apiece.

Soares, who is centering the line, has nine goals and 13 assists in 14 games.

Soares, a second-team All-Hockey East pick his senior year (2006-07), has played with Peoria (27 games, 8 goals, 7 assists), Manitoba (15 games, 1 & 6) and Chicago (3 games, 0 points) in the American Hockey League along with Alaska (12 games, 11 & 11) this season.

He had 36 & 45 in 61 games with the Aces last year.

“That’s why I wanted to come back here. I enjoyed it here last season. I have some stability with my teammates. I [finally] feel like part of a team,” said Soares, who also prefers living in an apartment and cooking instead of eating out all the time.

Soares, who had been with the St. Louis Blues organization, signed a free-agent ECHL contract this year so he wouldn’t be bound to just one organization.

“I wanted the opportunity to be called up [to the AHL] by more than just one team. I wanted to get my name out there a little bit,” said the 27-year-old Soares. “It’s been tough. When you don’t have job security, it can get pretty stressful at times.”

He said he expected to put up good numbers in Alaska.

“When you have a comfort level, you tend to play better,” said Soares.

He said they play in front of large, enthusiastic crowds in Anchorage which reminds him of playing at Maine where he posted 112 points in 132 games.

He is looking forward to playing against his friend, Johnson, who had 21 & 25 in 62 regular-season games and has had 5 & 3 in 16 playoff games.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to play for the Cup again. They’re a good team with a lot of team speed. It will be a lot of fun, especially when you have a good friend on the other team. He’s had some solid years. He’s doing well,” said Soares.

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