Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1/28/11 -- Aeros v. Abbotsford -- Aeros Ice the Heat


Cody Almond brings the pain in the first period.

The night was a struggle for the Aeros. They probably should have won this game easily, but instead found themselves having to get into the shootout to pull out the win and get the two points with the 4-3 win.

The Aeros took the early lead, had to hold on through an end of first period that was rather bizarre and disjointed due to a very serious injury to an Abbotsford player. They gave up leads in the second and third periods. They had some excellent play from those guys they've been getting excellent play from, and they had some disappointing and sloppy play from some others.

In the end, all that matters is the Aeros got the win and they're going into the All Star break on a very high note.

1. As of right now, the Aeros are tied, points wise, with the San Antonio Rampage for first place in the AHL West. The Aeros are 28-19-1-3 with 60 points. They're one point ahead of Peoria, two points ahead of Milwaukee, three points ahead of Texas and Oklahoma City and five points up on Chicago.

2. The Aeros do not play again this weekend. So they best they can come out of the weekend with is a tie for first place. However, Peoria plays Grand Rapids tomorrow, so with a win, the Rivermen jump into first place, or can move into a tie for first if they should get into overtime. Milwaukee, meanwhile, plays in Rockford on Saturday, so a win moves the Admirals into a tie with Houston and San Antonio.

3. Another fantastic night from Max Noreau -- two assists to give him 30 points for the season (7-23=30). And he has been ratcheting up the physical play.

4. Robbie Earl didn't score tonight, but he seemed to be around the action often, and he did great work drawing a penalty in overtime and putting the Aeros on the power play.

5. The officiating was awful. Beyond awful, if that's possible. I'm still trying to understand how it was that Tyler Cuma was sent to the box of interference on what was, instead, a fantastic and legal hip check. As it was, the game was rough and chippy from the start, and the guys in the stripes made little effort to get under control.

6. Mike Yeo sensed that Abbotsford might try to go physical and force the Aeros out of their game. And he and the staff warned the team beforehand, and throughout the game, to not let Abbotsford get them out of their game.

I didn't recognize this at the time, but Carson McMillan was pummeled at one point in the first period, and instead of getting into a big fight, backed down. He was following the game plan. And Warren Peters was mugged in the first period, yet it was Peters who wound up with all of the penalty minutes.

"I believe that we were really controlling the play," Yeo said. "That was part of their focus, the stuff after the whistles. We tried to talk about that, not getting involved in that, making sure our play, we were playing between the whistles. I felt that that kind of slowed the game down a little bit. Give them credit, it did take us off our game a little bit. But that’s something we have to make sure – it’s always about whatever the situation calls for. If the situation calls for you to get in there and stick up for your teammate at that time or maybe it calls for a momentum shift and you need to bring some energy and some life, then you do it. But there’s also a time to skate away and get out of that stuff and keep the flow of the game going our way."

7. And I think that's a bit of what Drew Bagnall was doing later in the game -- going in and sticking up for teammates. Bagnall was iffy for the game, but he surely made his presence felt throughout the game.

8. Bizarre end to the first period. With about 3.5 seconds left, the Aeros were off on what appeared to be a breakaway. Then two guys from the Heat collided around mid-ice and collapsed to the ice. The whistle blew to stop play and nothing much happened for about 15 minutes. The teams were eventually sent to the locker rooms while the medical staff handled things during what turned out to be the first part of intermission.

Play resumed after intermission with 3.5 seconds on the ice in which the first period was ended. Then the horn sounded to end the period, and then the second period was started. Bizarre.

"I’ve seen it affect both teams," Yeo said. "It’s tough, but it just depends on your group. It’s just our job as coaches to make sure that we’re saying the right things, to make sure that you don’t lose your focus. Quite often, when a player does get hurt like that, I’ve seen many times where the game changes one way or the other. It’s got to be about the next play, the next shift mentality."

9. You might not have noticed, but Nathan Smith was in uniform for the Aeros tonight. Well, not really, but for two minutes there in the second period, the scoreboard showed that it was "8," Smith's number last season, sitting in the penalty box and not "18," Colton Gillies. That wasn't as bad, however, as the PA guy who had trouble spitting out Abbotsford and Heat on numerous occasions.

10. Strange night for Anton Khudobin. He had a very poor second period in which he gave up two very soft goals. He appeared to get his act together in the third -- that third goal from Matt Keith appeared to be more the result of poor defensive play on part of Justin Falk than anything Khudobin did, and he was very solid in the OT. The one goal that Abbotsford got in the shootout was the result of a spectacular Corey Locke-esque shot than anything that Khudobin did wrong.

11. In some ways it's a shame that the All Star break is coming because the Aeros have been one of the hottest teams in the league. They were 10-2-0-1 in January and they're 12-4-0-1 since Christmas. When you're on a streak like this, you kind of want to keep going, especially when one thinks of where the team was when they headed into the Christmas break.

12. For those of you who are wondering, the Aeros will have an optional skate on Tuesday then return to practice on Wednesday before hosting Texas on Friday night. And despite the team's hot streak, the Aeros can use the break to rest up, mentally and physically.

13. The Aeros are in a tight playoff race with seven teams within five points of each other in the standings. Yeo compares the Aeros current situation to the one the Penguins were in the year they won the Stanley Cup.

"I think that our schedule is going to be better for us," he said. "Where before we were dealing with that stuff, we felt like we were always chasing everybody, at the same time we were physically getting tired. Where I think we have a little more rest now coming out of this break. But the flip side of it is, and it happened to us in Pittsburgh, we had to make a run that year. We were phenomenal after the coaching change. And every game was so important. And we were in full stride when playoffs began. I think that, usually, if you look at teams that do something in the playoffs, they found a way to elevate their game and bring their game up to a new level, and once the playoffs begin, you don’t have to try to find that next gear. "

14. Just a few quick notes. Jon DiSalvatore has a point in eight of his last nine games (4-5=9). Anton Khudobin has won four of his last five starts. Jean-Micheal Daoust's first period goal was his 300th career goal.

15. The Aeros are now 23-7-0-2 when they score the first goal.

16. Chad Rau, who hit the game-winning shot in the shootout, was not entirely happy with his shot, and after the game, he was talking about how he would have liked to take it back and try it again. He thinks he got lucky because he didn't exactly do what he wanted to do and as such, the goalie was able to get his glove on the puck.

17. On a personal note, it was nice to see Abbotsford assistant coach Troy Ward tonight. I dealt with Troy a lot in his three years as Kevin Constantine's assistant here with the Aeros, and he was always easy to deal with.

3 comments:

Forecheck said...

 Appropriate stick figure of the night: Take-off of an old anti-drug campaign –

This is Anton
This is Anton’s brain
This is Anton’s brain the game before the all-star break.

Of course, it wasn’t just Anton. Lots of sloppy play, even by Sully.

 Tired of choking 2-0 leads, the guys decided to choke three one-goal leads instead.

 Most common thing I was thinking last night : “What on earth are you guys doing???”

 Why do we play so poorly against the North Division, which the rest of thr West woops up on? Must be the guys don’t take the North Division teams seriously. Another case of lacking leadership.

 What did Lamoureux do to get Peters so hacked off?

 Last I heard on Meyers was they were doing a CT scan, as repoted by Joe O. Nothing in the Abbotsford paper this morning.




1. “As of right now, the Aeros are tied, points wise, with the San Antonio Rampage for first place in the AHL West. The Aeros are 28-19-1-3 with 60 points. They're one point ahead of Peoria, two points ahead of Milwaukee, three points ahead of Texas and Oklahoma City and five points up on Chicago.”

Unfortunately, percentage-wise, the Aeros are just brely in the playoffs (0.006 ahead of OKC), having played up to seven more games than the other teams in the division


4. Robbie Earl didn't score tonight, but he seemed to be around the action often, and he did great work drawing a penalty in overtime and putting the Aeros on the power play.

The guy is playing some unbelieveable hockey right now. Probably making a statement for employment with another NHL team next season.

5. The officiating was awful. Beyond awful, if that's possible.

In the AHL, totally possible. Remember this is the league of Koharski, Koharski, and L'Ecuyer.

I was hoping for another Playfair explosion like last season in Abbotsford. I’ve never seen one in person before.

I'm still trying to understand how it was that Tyler Cuma was sent to the box of interference on what was, instead, a fantastic and legal hip check. As it was, the game was rough and chippy from the start, and the guys in the stripes made little effort to get under control.

I'm thinking "Hebert" might be French for "Caller of invisible penalties". Particularly all those slashes.

8. Bizarre end to the first period. With about 3.5 seconds left, the Aeros were off on what appeared to be a breakaway. Then two guys from the Heat collided around mid-ice and collapsed to the ice. The whistle blew to stop play and nothing much happened for about 15 minutes. The teams were eventually sent to the locker rooms while the medical staff handled things during what turned out to be the first part of intermission.

Yeah, and why stop play before Abbotsford gained possession? It’s not like blood was spurting out of either player. And why not just add 3.5 seconds to the second period as we used to do things?

9. That wasn't as bad, however, as the PA guy who had trouble spitting out Abbotsford and Heat on numerous occasions.

Yeah, we need a new PA guy bad. One that can actually pronounce “Abbotsford” and “Grand Rapids”. For his sake, I’m glad we don’t play Worcester at home this season. Or Wilkes-Barre. And I’m also glad that Terre Haute is not in the league and that the Rampage are not the Bexar County Rampage. And I really hope Martin St. Louis is never sent down to the "A".

John Royal said...

@FC, I have the end of the Peter's thing in photos. Let me go through what I have tonight and see if I have the start of it. I heard that he was hacked in the back with a stick a couple of times during the play.

John Royal said...

@FC, I have the end of the Peter's thing in photos. Let me go through what I have tonight and see if I have the start of it. I heard that he was hacked in the back with a stick a couple of times during the play.