For a while this summer, it looked as though Alexandre Jacques was going to ride the Reading Railroad.
As it turned out, he's back in Toledo helping drive a Storm engine that's clicking on all cylinders.
Jacques scored a pair of goals last evening at the Sports Arena, as Toledo improved its East Coast Hockey League-leading record to 14-2-1 with a 6-3 win over Wheeling.
In his last two games, Jacques has five goals. In his last nine, the 25-year-old has 11 goals and four assists.
“I really like Alexandre Jacques,” Storm coach Claude Noel said.
Noel must. He gave up an all-star defenseman to reacquire the right winger from the Reading Royals late this summer.
Lost at the end of last season as part of a Monopoly-like future considerations deal made by then-Storm general manager Pat Pylypuik and coach Dennis Holland that allowed Pensacola to take any skater off Toledo's roster, Jacques' rights ended up in Pennsylvania.
Noel shipped Mat Snesrud, Baton Rouge's lone all-star game representative last season, to the Royals so that Jacques could return for a fourth season in a Storm sweater.
Ironically, while Toledo has the ECHL's best record, Snesrud has the third-worst plus-minus (-11) in the 27-team league.
“I don't want to think about [playing in Reading],” Jacques said. “Everything turned out well. I knew coming in we were going to have a good team, but the last two years I said we were going to have a good team and it didn't turn out that way.”
Jacques had his way with the visitors, scoring Toledo's first two goals.
He opened the scoring midway through the opening frame, backhanding a Dale Junkin rebound from the slot.
After Wheeling tied the contest, Jacques responded with another rebound goal, converting Nathan Robinson's shot with a wrister while parked just to the right of the net at 12:15 of the first period.
The goal light never went on, but over the animated protests of Nailers coach John Brophy, referee Steve Marofsky - who was stationed near Jacques - ruled that the shot had indeed crossed the line.
Not yet one-fourth of the way through the regular season, Jacques has 13 goals. He had 29 all of last season.
“Jacques can play at the next level,” Noel said. “Hopefully, he'll get an opportunity to do that.”
Storm goaltender Doug Teskey made the most of his most important opportunity of the night, stopping a Tim Preston short-handed breakaway with the scored tied at 3 late in the third period.
That save seemed to give Toledo the boost it needed to finish the job that Jacques helped start. On a night that saw Toledo fire 44 shots on goal, Darryl Bootland got the winner with 5:30 left on a slap shot through traffic from between the rings.
The Storm is now a perfect 10-0 at One Main Street.
“It's been a great ride so far,” Jacques said.
Much smoother than the Reading Railroad.
NOTES: Left wing Robinson was recalled to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League after the game. In addition to his assist on Jacques' second, Robinson singlehandedly killed 10 seconds of a Wheeling power-play by using his speed to rag the puck and play keep-away. In three ECHL games, he had one goal and five assists ... The contest was delayed by almost 25 minutes when Wheeling's bus ran into heavy traffic.