It was immediately clear that the boys were focused and ready to win tonight. Frankly, as much as I love to watch him stretch, Peoria goalie Ben Bishop isn't setting the world on fire, and I felt like if there was a night to get the scoring going, this was it.
The first half of the game, the Aeros were a different team, controlling the puck often, keeping a lot of pressure in Peoria's end, wearing them down, if not scoring.
But Peoria was the first on the board 15 minutes into the first with an odd-man rush that honestly, I was surprised Brusty didn't stop, but it happens. And from there he stopped everything else for 31 saves on 32 shots.
Meanwhile, Chad Rau tied it up 6 mins into the 2nd with, of all things, a penalty shot. He was hauled down on a breakaway, and Bishop "strategically let go" of his stick to prevent Rau scoring in an empty net. Unfortunately, for some reason, the feed from Peoria showed the fans in the stands rather than the actual action on the ice during the entire penalty shot. I was so distracted by that, I didn't really even listen to Joe's call other than to hear that he scored.
For perspective, apparently the last time the Aeros had a penalty shot was back when Joel Ward was with the team. So, that was pretty exciting, even if we couldn't see it.
Then, about 10 minutes later, Cody Almond was set free from the penalty box and joined a rush started by Brusty with a huge outlet pass, that resulted in a 3 on 1 and Gillies scoring the eventual game winner.
And just to prove they can score every which way, Milroy scored in a scramble in front of Bishop's net 5 minutes into the third.
Peoria pulled the goalie at the end and it got pretty hairy, but Brusty made some huuuuge saves and kept it a 2 goal game, until Irmen put one in the empty net to get it to 4-1. Bob's yer uncle. Game over. Drive home safely.
Couple of fights worth mentioning: Mitch Love and Matt Kassian dropped the mitts 5 minutes into the game and man, Mitch is a smaller guy, but I think most of us who know them would expect it to be a fairly good match-up. It definitely was, with both guys landing lots of solid punches. Frankly, it looked pretty painful for both guys, but I'm sure their teammates appreciated the energy it brought the game.
Then midway through the second period, Nathan Smith and Cam Paddock went toe to toe in what looked like it was going to be a hug-and-falldown kinda deal, but they ended up swinging for a good long while. One of the longest fights I've seen.
Probably wasn't the most necessary thing ever but maybe there was a score to settle there.
Okay, gotta head to my own hockey game, but I do so with a little more love in my heart.
But also admittedly, a little bit of nervousness. Three goalies. I don't see 3 sticking around. Florida has been playing with 1 goalie for 11 games now waiting for Brusty to come back. Kinda hate them for it, if I'm being honest. Circling vultures.
But I understand. He's worthy of being in demand. But shouldn't the Aeros have the best goalies IN Houston? Bah. We'll see, I guess.