The Aeros were a tired team on Wednesday night. And it showed, especially in the first period when they allowed the San Antonio Rampage to take 11 shots. But Wade Dubielewicz, making the start instead of the freshly returned from Minnesota Anton Khudobin, kept the Rampage off the board and allowed the Aeros to regroup during the first intermission.
The two teams skated about even until a string of fantastic passes from Jon DiSalvatore to Justin Falk to Nathan Smith found Colton Gillies at 9:34 of the second period. Gillies was in a great spot and Josh Tordjman, who played a fantastic game in goal despite the defeat, was in no position to stop the puck as the Aeros went up 1-0.
The score stayed at 1-0 for 20 more minutes until, at 10:01 of the third, Matt Watkins stole the puck behind the Aeros net and found Mikkel Boedker in front of the net. Boedker then buried the puck to knot the score at 1-1, where it stayed for the rest of the game.
Both goalies were on the top of their games, thus the game went into overtime. It appeared that it would go into OT, but with only 36 seconds left, Chad Rau made a great play on the puck and found Max Noreau. Noreau skated in toward the net -- a bit unusual as he’s usually firing away from the blue line -- and went top shelf to give the Aeros the 2-1 win.
“Rau made a good play and came out of the corner,” Noreau said. “I think I’d just stepped on the ice, so I was just trying to find some open ice and help him out and maybe make it an easy pass for him…the goalie went down pretty early. I’m just glad we got the two points.”
Indeed, two points the Aeros did get. The Aeros also got their third straight win, giving them six points in four days, and the win moved them back into fourth place, percentage points ahead of Rockford.
“I thought we were real fortunate to survive [the first period],” Constantine said after the game. “We looked like a team that had played four games in six nights. We looked tired. But the good part about the team is they regrouped and we had a good second, which has been trouble for us against San Antonio….that set the stage to win.”
And win they did before a “crowd” of 2538. They have two games left before the Christmas break, with the next one on Friday night here at Toyota Center against the Texas Stars.
SOME MISCELLEANOUS NOTES:
The Aeros are a tired team that is on a roll, having just won their third straight game. But they’ve been on three game rolls before, only to fall apart and lose just as many. Thus a record which has them hanging around the breakeven part. This is something the team recognizes, and they want to get into the break on a five game winning streak.
“At this point in the season, especially with Christmas break coming up, that’s a huge motivation for the guys,” Noreau said about keeping the winning streak going. “We’ve only got two games left, so just get it everything we got and make it five in a row, and then once we get back, guys are going to be fresh from coming home for the holidays, and we just take it from there.”
The Aeros will have played 33 games as they hit the break, and will be nearly halfway through the season. They will have also played nearly half of their home games, and by the time New Year’s Day hits, the team will have played half of its home schedule. So let’s hope Noreau is correct and that the team uses this upcoming break as motivation for a winning streak.
Colton Gillies got the game’s first goal, which was notable for being -- besides the first goal of the game -- his first goal since Opening Night on October 2. It’s been frustrating for Gillies, but he says that he’s been working on his game, and trying not to worry because he’s been getting encouragement from Constantine.
“It’s definitely nice to get the monkey off the back a little bit,” Gillies said about his first goal since Opening Night. “The coach said, just stick with it, I’m doing everything right. I’ve been working hard in practice and doing all of those extra things with the hope that I might get one, which I did, so it was good.”
And for those of you who are curious, the Aeros now officially have a captain as Jon DiSalvatore was awarded the “C” before last Friday’s game with Peoria. He’s the first “lone” captain on the Aeros since Erik Reitz was captain back in 2007-08. The Aeros rotated the “C” last season, and it was worn, at various times, by Clayton Stoner, Brandon Rogers, Krys Kolanos, Corey Locke, and somebody who I’m probably forgetting.
Tonight’s song from The Beatles is “Anytime At All.” It’s dedicated to the team for finally naming a captain. And for Gillies finally getting a goal. And for the team’s winning streak. And for the team waiting until overtime was nearly over to get the win. So, until Friday, here’s The Beatles.