The Aeros scoreless streak stood at 158:43 coming into today's match-up with the Texas Stars. They were on a four-game losing streak, and had failed to score in their last two, including an embarrassing 5-0 loss to Hamilton in Houston right before Christmas. The team's record had dropped to 17-15-1-2 (35 points) and they were sitting in seventh place.
So things weren't exactly looking good for the Aeros as they headed into tonight's match-up with the Stars. The Stars are always a tough match-up because they've always got excellent goaltending and play decent defense while presenting a team that can score points when need be.
But the Aeros did something shocking tonight. They scored a goal 30 seconds into the game -- Warren Peters on a wraparound -- then came back from the 2-1 first period deficit to tie the game late in the second before taking the lead in the third. It looked like they were going to hold on for the win, but Francis Wathier scored for the Stars with 18.3 left in the game to tie it, and off to OT the teams were. The Aeros kept the Stars off the board in OT, then saw Robbie Earl, Chad Rau, and Cody Almond score in a seven-round shoot out to give the Aeros the 4-3 win.
The month has been a killer for the Aeros -- I'm still trying to figure out how they landed on the AHL's crap list -- and it's not close to over. They play tomorrow in San Antonio, Wednesday in Milwaukee, and Thursday in Rockford to close out the year, then host San Antonio on Saturday night. It's Andrew's theory that the Aeros need to get past New Year's Day with a better than .500 record. And as hard it is to believe -- especially after the way they played last week -- this goal is possible. They're two games above .500 right now, and they've got four left.
I'm not saying it's going to happen, but it is possible.
Now for some thoughts and misc items.
1. The Aeros have scored a goal in every period of a game seven times this season. Five of those games have been against the Stars.
2. Watch this trend: when the Aeros score the first goal of the game, they are 16-5-0-2.
3. Yeo says the guys are tired, and he they had four days off after the Hamilton loss. part of the reason for this was that he felt they needed the mental break because this month, with the travel, and the losing streak, and the scoreless streak, has been a huge mental grind.
4. “This month has been a grind. I will say that,” Yeo said. “This month has been a grind. But that’s where I’m hopeful, this stretch right now, four games in five nights coming out of this break, is going to be – we’re not getting off any easier here – but I do think, more than anything, it’s probably mental. And having those four days off for our guys, more than anything, has come at the right time and at least gave us the right attitude coming back to make sure we’re ready for a push.”
5. It didn't really show up in the box score, but Robbie Earl had a hell of a game tonight. Of course, being that he's an Aero, he had his share of bad luck. Several shot attempts were stopped by a goalie having a hell of a game. And he was in a great position for one shot, only to have his stick break as he was taking the shot. But he was everywhere he needed to be throughout the game, and he managed to get two assists and a goal in the shootout.
6. If you were wondering why Matt Kassian, "the boxer" on the team, didn't play on Boxing Day, well, it's because he's suffering from a lower body injury. Casey Wellman was scratched for the same reason.
7. There was a nice crowd today, but damn, they were so quiet we could hear one guy on the opposite end of the arena shouting at the team.
8. Dear Toyota Center sound crew. Could you please save that "fight, fight, fight" song for an actual fight?
9. Dear AHL, screw you. Come on, could you please explain this schedule? Nine of the team's final 12 games in 2010 are on the road, and 18 of the team's final 27 games for 2010 are on the road. I realize I took a quick vacation and that I had to cover a college basketball game, but damn, it should not be December 26 when I get around to seeing my second Aeros game of the month.
10. Since it's Boxing Day, how about we go out on a song featuring "boxer" in the title? So here's Simon and Garfunkel with "The Boxer."
And in case I forget, since I'll next see the team on New Year's Day, I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year.