Well how about that? The Houston Aeros looked like a professional hockey team on the ice tonight -- on the offensive end -- and they showed that good things can happen when you score goals as they got the 5-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins this afternoon.
Grand Rapids got the scoring started when Patrick Rissmiller scored on Wade Dubielewicz at 4:40 of the first period, and it kind of looked like that this was going to be another one of those games where the Aeros get blown out before going on break. But at 14:46 of the first Max Noreau got a nice pass from Duncan Milroy, proceeded to fake a Grand Rapids defenseman of out of his gear, then snapped the shot by Daniel Larsson to tie the score.
The second period was all the Aeros as Andy Hilbert got a nice cross-ice pass from Jean-Michel Daoust and put the puck in the net to make it 2-1 at 2:56. Duncan Milroy punched in a Brandon Rogers rebound at 6:49 to make it 3-1, then Jon DiSalvatore made it 4-1 on an unassisted goal as he skated around the Grand Rapids defense and made use of a screen to get the puck past Larsson.
Grand Rapids changed goalies to start the third, and the change seemed to suit the Griffins as they got the puck past Dubielewicz twice to make the score 4-3 with nearly 15 minutes remaining in the game. But Grand Rapids would get no closer and Noreau would get the empty-netter at 19:37 to make the final 5-3.
“It’s fun. I’m not going to lie,” Dubielewicz said about playing a game with a big lead. “When we put up four, it’s not that you can relax by any means, but you can get in the game, you can get in the flow of things, and if you make a mistake it’s not going to cost you two points. That’s what it was tonight. It was nice. It was a lot of fun.”
The Aeros now head into the Christmas break with a record of 16-13-2-1 (35 points) and are percentage points ahead of Rockford for fourth place in the jam-packed West Division. The Aeros return to play on Saturday night when they host the San Antonio Rampage at 7:35.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:
Andrew did the checking on this, and it’s rather amazing when you think of the team this year. But every year since Constantine’s been here, the team has headed into the Christmas break at or just above five hundred. The 2007-08 team was 15-12-1-1 (32 points) at this point. Last year’s team was 15-10-1-6 (37 points), and this year’s squad is 16-13-2-1 (35 points).
“That’ll be all right if the second half goes like the way the second half went both years,” Constantine said. “I mean, a chance to climb up in standings. At least we’ve put ourselves in a position to be competitive in the division. We’ve got to figure out a way now to have an even better second half because it’s a good division and we’ve got to climb our way into making sure we’re in the playoffs.”
As for what’s in store for the second half, Constantine would like to see the team improve it’s play at home, put some more points on the board, and go off on a long winning streak.
“So somewhere we need to put at least one stretch, this year we have to put some type of string together at some point just to kind of insure we make the playoffs.” he said.
He is pleased that the team won four of the last five games of this stretch, but he and the players are upset that they couldn’t go into the break with a five game win streak.
Brandon Rogers thinks the team is what it is, which is a team that’s going to win 90-percent of its games by a 2-1 score.
“Obviously we always want to get better offensively,” he said. “That’s one of the things we work on all of the time in practice is making sure we’re scoring goals and trying to get better offensively because our base is always going to be strong defense, and if we can get better offensively, and keep building on that all year, then we’ll be a better team over all.”
Some of the young guys like Chad Rau were looking kind of tired coming into these past several games, primarily because they’ve never played this many games before. But Constantine hasn’t had many resources at his disposable because of injuries in Houston and in Minnesota. However, he expects Petr Kalus and Colton Gillies to be able to return to play next Saturday when the team returns to action, and he expects Peter Zingoni to be able to start getting back on the ice and testing his injury when the team returns for practice, those his return to game action is further off.
Also, as Heather mentioned in a post below, Wade Dubielewicz is off to Switzerland to join Team Canada in some international hockey action. He departs on the Tuesday, and he should return to the Aeros on the January 1st. Until then, the goalies will be Anton Khudobin and Barry Brust, which should make Heather happy.
I’ve just about had it with the cheerleading from the PA, the PA speaking during game action, PA spots extending after for a long time after game action has resumed, the sound effects that pop up from nowhere during game action, and certain various people who don’t know how to turn off their microphones. There’s not much I can do about it as we reporters have a reputation about bitching about everything. But I know that there are many of you out there who are getting a bit pissed about this, as well. So, might I suggest, that, if you’re bugged, too, you go here and start firing off some emails to some of the people who might be in a position to do something about this. It’s making the team look unprofessional. But don't bother the people in Hockey Ops, Corporate Partnerships, Ticket Sales, Joe O'Donnell, or the receptionist.
And to end things tonight, I’m going to go with The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour.” Primarily because, on several of the goals, especially Noreau’s first period goal, I had flashbacks to last year’s squad which seemed to be able to score at will. So until next Saturday, may you all have a Merry Christmas and may you all enjoy a Magical Mystery Tour of your own.