The Aeros were down 4-0 with 13 minutes left in the game against Peoria tonight.
And they still won.
I know. I know. It's a lot to take in, but sometimes you gotta hit this stuff like ripping off a band-aid.
Trust me, it's even more shocking when you've sat through the first completely futile 47 minutes of play. When you've watched ONE Peoria player, Derek Armstrong, who had all of 8 goals on the season, rack up FOUR goals in one game. A natural hat trick +1. (He also got the lone goal in the shootout. So make that 5 on the night.)
Armstrong might as well change his sweater to 30 because he's got Anton's number.
Anyway, so, here we are 7 minutes into the third and I've said during the second intermission to Chris Jerina, who was shooting the game, that he might as well shoot Anton's end because "it's not like the Aeros are going to score." After all, Khudobin appeared to be coming apart at the seams, earning 4 minutes of PIM (2 for roughing and 2 for delay of game--he played the puck outside the trapezoid) during the second period.
I guess I forgot about Anton's remarkable aptitude for regrouping and letting go of a bad game or a bad period.
But I'm pretty sure the comeback, starting with a power play goal from DiSalvatore 7 minutes into the period, wasn't something I forgot. It's something this team just hasn't done.
It still didn't feel like an uprising, though, until Rau potted his goal 3 minutes later and then DiSalvatore threw a propane tank on the fire by putting the score within 1 less than 1 minute later.
At this point, you figure Ben Bishop is officially strug-gl-ing and feeling some quicksand under his skates. Clearly Peroria had made the classic mistake of thinking they'd sealed this thing up.
And then BOOM, Noreau ties it up from the low slot, just beating a dropping Bishop.
Photo by Chris JerinaFrom there, it was just tight play, back and forth, which kept up through regulation and the overtime period, until the teams were forced into a shootout.
As a testament to Khudobin's bounce-back-ability, he was terrific in the shootout. He let the first one in (Armstrong's), but stoned the next four shooters (none easy attempts) to get his first win since he shut Hamilton out on November 25th, 2009. When you have to add the YEAR, you know it's been a long time. That's two months of no wins, my friends. The Aeros surely have one SERIOUSLY relieved goalie on their hands tonight.
That is one helluva monkey to shed. And it was fun to watch the boys swarm him after the winning save. This was a big deal for him and they all knew it.
So, the Aeros win it 5-4, take home two points from an otherwise-brutal swing through the midwest. But they did it the absolute hardest way possible. Surprised? Yeah, me neither.
Update: Nice job by the Rivermen crew to get a highlights video up so quickly.
I can't wrap this up without mentioning the fight between Cody Almond and Danny Richmond in the first period. It was, in my opinion, the fight of the year. Both guys were toe-to-toe (unlike Yonkman who wanted to fight with his back to Kassian in Milwaukee Friday night), and just throwing bombs.
Almond won decisively, but took a few good licks himself and just kep throwing. Both guys were just studs, but Cody showed that he's not one to be trifled with. It was the best fight I've seen in a long time. And Richmond is no cream puff, BTW. He's got 128 minutes of PIM so far this season.
I'm already high on Cody but I just got higher. That hockey sense, that offensive ability (more is coming, I promise), AND that toughness? He's a special player. Look out for this one.
More photos tomorrow from Killer Jerina. Enjoy this win, folks. It was as unlikely, miraculous, and NEEDED a win as I can remember that wasn't a Game 7.