Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Round 2,Game 3: Aeros vs. Milwaukee -- It's Business Time

It would not be fair to the Houston Aeros to say that this third game with the Milwaukee Admirals was do-or-die. But while a loss wouldn’t kill the team’s playoff chances, a win would go a far way towards advancing their goal of winning the Calder Cup. So leave it to Krys Kolanos to softly flip the puck past Milwaukee goalie Drew MacIntyre at 5:41 of the first to put the Aeros up 1-0.

Because if there’s one lesson that has been learned from watching the Aeros in the playoffs this season, it’s this: after tonight, the team is 5-1 when scoring the first goal. And the team’s now 4-0 when leading after the first period. So if the Aeros grab the early lead, the Aeros are going to win the game.

Still, with all of that, the Aeros were fighting to win the game until at 5:14 of the third, Max Noreau fired a shot on the power play that grazed Matt Beaudoin’s pads and snuck past MacIntyre to put the Aeros up 2-1 with a little under 15 minutes of action to go.

“My job is stay in front,” Beaudoin said. “That’s been my role since I’ve been here. I’ve been fortunate enough a couple of times to have it hit my pads and it goes in. I’m just trying to get the goalie’s eyes out of the way. And the puck just went off my pads and it went right in.”

But even with the 2-1 lead, the Aeros couldn’t relax.

“You stop breathing,” Beaudoin said. “It’s like we’re up 2-1 and now you can’t make any mistakes. At 1-1 you kind of like trying to take a chance here and there. But at 2-1 you’re on your heels a little bit, even though you don’t want to be.”

But then Corey Locke got free on a breakaway, bringing John Lammers with him. And using Lammers to draw the attention of MacIntyre, Locke buried the puck at 18:09 of the third to put the game out of the reach. And just like that, the Aeros were up two games to one in this best of seven series.


With Nolan Schaefer and Barry Brust pretty much out for the rest of the playoffs, the Aeros are going to have to rely on Anton Khudobin. And Anton’s play has been scary at times, what with the rebounds and his penchant for soft goals. But it needs to be stated that in the playoffs, Khudobin has faced two of the hottest teams in the AHL, the Peoria Rivermen and the Milwaukee Admirals. And in those 10 games, he’s played a total of 586 out of 612 minutes. And he’s faced 265 shots while stopping 242 of the shots.

“I feel good, you know,” Khudobin said after the 3-1 win. “We won. But the series is not over yet. So we just won the second game. But we still have to win two more. I feel good. Everybody played good.”

And the guys did play good in front of Khudobin. They didn’t make stupid mistakes. They didn’t get killed by stupid penalties. They put Milwaukee on the defense. And this recipe is the key for the Aeros. Khudobin’s not yet a Nolan Schaefer who can play a perfect game night after night without superb defensive help. But Khudobin will deliver a solid performance, and he appears to be gaining confidence with the more games the team wins. So maybe all of the worries about Khudobin that the fans had coming into the playoffs were a bit exaggerated.

The word coming from Milwaukee after the game was that they lost the game due to the officiating. And yes, the officiating was a little questionable in the third period, but…I hate when teams blame losses on the officiating. A good team should always be able to overcome the obstacles placed in their paths.

The Aeros didn’t just let all of their three-game weekends be the cause of a bad season. They found a way to fight through the idiotic scheduling and it arguably made them a better team – take Game Three against Peoria which saw Peoria actually reach Houston before the Aeros because of weather and travel problems. Teams not used to the travel might have had trouble with that game, but the Aeros just came out and played hockey.

So let the Admirals bitch about the officiating. But if they can’t handle the adversity of a five-on-three penalty kill, then maybe they don’t deserve to be a playoff winning team.

Kevin Constantine wasn’t totally pleased with his team after the game. His goal before the game was for the guys to worry less about how Milwaukee played the game and to concentrate more on their own game.

“I thought in the third we did some things that were good,” Constantine said. “We didn’t try to do things that weren’t available. Sometimes you get so excited and want to be a factor in the game that you try to do too much. In the second I thought we got too much into one-on-one play and tried to do more than was available. In the third, we just made the plays that were there, but kept it simple when we needed to. That was part of what we were trying to get to. So the answer would probably no in the second but yes in the third.”

And in honor of Flight of the Conchords performing in Houston later tonight, and in honor of the Aeros getting business done in Game Three, here’s Bret and Jemaine performing “Business Time.”


AiH said...

After the game Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine was spotted gyrating about his office to the music of Lady GaGa singing out, "can't read my, can't read my, no he can't read my poker face."

Ms. Conduct said...

Indeed. He was very cagey on looking ahead. His sideburns are kinda freaking me out though. I keep waiting for him to whip out a musket or ride off on a horse or something.

AiH said...

Oh for sure, the chops are a thing of beauty. They are almost inviting in a way, comforting you as you come in close. Then, when it is too late, you realize you're in the death zone.

The General rides on.

AdmiralsShortShifts said...

We enjoyed the video feed tonight...but why are there no video replays? Even for goals for the home team?

What song was the dance group and mascot dancing to after the game on the ice? We were harassing our mascot that that will be him next year... :)

BTW -- Great write-up for the Chron, Ms.C. Well done!

John Royal said...

I'm not sure of all the back and forth on this among the Aeros/Wild and Toyota Center, but it's a cost issue. A cost issue in the Houston Rockets, who run and operate Toyota Center, have decided to charge a rather high fee for the use of the video crews during non-Rocket events, and the Wild can only justify paying that cost on Friday and Saturdays when they have their best crowds.

Or at least that's my understanding. But it's bothers us just as much as it bothers you.

Ms. Conduct said...

Are they still using Apache by the Sugarhill Gang as the post-win cele dance song? Yeah, that sounds right. I'm usually en route when that's going on. (BTW, can someone confirm we have a new mascot? Or does this one have a high ankle sprain keeping him from skating?)

Confession: I missed that song so much over the summer, I actually bought it on iTunes. :) I'm hopeless...

AiH.. hilarious KC take.

Tonto, jump on it!

John Royal said...

The only music I remember from last night -- which is strange seeing how I always bitch about the music -- was listening to Kermit The Frog while we were waiting for Beaudoin and Constantine to come out.

Ms. Conduct said...

That was a charming moment, I have to say. Kermie!