I wasn't going to write anything tonight -- I've been sick, which is why I missed Friday's game and I told Heather and Andrew I was going to skip tonight -- but I got some good quotes after the game, more than I'll be able to use for the mothership, and some photos. So here's a little something real quick so I can get to bed and try to recover from whatever has made me sick.
First, the important news. The Aeros got the 6-5 (SO) win over Oklahoma City tonight. And with those two points, the Aeros moved back into a tie with Milwaukee for first -- we all need to send a thank you to Rockford for the nice work they've been doing knocking around the playoff competition, tonight defeating the Admirals in OT -- and kept four points ahead of a rapidly charging Texas team in third place. Along with the win and moving into the tie with Milwaukee, the two points gave the Aeros some more cushion as they're lead over Peoria, Chicago, and OKC is now nine points while they've moved 11 points ahead of the rapidly fading Rampage.
This first photo is just one of Jon DiSalvatore. I'm including it because he's in a position he was so often during the night, screening the Baron goalie. I made the argument in the third period that DiSalvatore deserved a star because goals three and four wouldn't have been possible without the great job he did of blocking the goalie's vision.
"That’s part of the job of being up front," he said after the game. "You might not get the goal or anything. It’s part of the job, and you’ve got to get there and get a good screen so the goalie can’t see those little flutters some times."
And while it was nice to see the Aeros get the win, this game tonight was one that they should have lost, and probably deserved to lose. I'm still not sure of what was going through Chad Rau's mind there in the closing seconds of the third with the empty net. Instead of taking the shot, he tried to pass it off to Patrick O'Sullivan, and OKC recovered the puck, scored the goal, and sent the game to OT.
That was just one of the many things that Mike Yeo was unhappy about after the game, and he made it clear that that would never happen again.
"We’ll address it, and we’ll make sure it never happens again," Yeo said. "I think that just kind of goes to – we seem to, when we have somebody down, want to let them up right now, instead of stepping on their throat. I think that’s just that killer instinct that we have to find, and again, it’s being a little bit naïve. You can’t do that. You have to make sure, whether you’re up 3-1 or if you’re up 5-4, whatever the situation, you can’t let your urgency level drop."
If there's one person that the win can be credited tonight, it's Jed Ortmeyer. Yeo and DiSalvatore made it clear after the game that it was Ortmeyer who took charge during the second intermission and told the team they were going to get it done.
"He was the guy who stood up in the locker room before we went out for the third period, and said, ‘we’re going to go do this. We’re going to win this game,'" Yeo said. "But it’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to go do it. And you could tell, right from the first shift, he went out and had a huge hit at center ice, and really woke the guys up. And with the way he was blocking shots and paying the price there, you could tell he was all in for his teammates."
And Ortmeyer also tallied the game's first goal, which is what happens in the photo below.
"You have a guy like that, who’s been around, who’s played a lot of NHL games, who’s been around winners, it speaks a lot," DiSalvatore said about Ortmeyer. "It speaks a lot to where guys need to put their minds going out. We were down by a goal going into the third period, and we needed to focus on winning a 20 minute period, and if we won a 20 minute game, so to speak, we were going to be in a good situation, either going into overtime or potentially winning the game outright. So for him to draw our attention to that, just before we go out, is huge for young guys, even for older guys, we all feed off whatever we can bring to the table to put ourselves into the right mindset going out in the period."
This next photo is Patrick O'Sullivan after he got leveled with a shot to the head in the first period. To me, he seemed a bit off for the rest of the game, though Yeo told us after the game that he was fine. Yeo said that's something a guy like O'Sullivan has to live with, however, as he's the kind of guy, with his scoring ability, that teams are going to target.
Speaking of Patrick O'Sullivan's scoring ability, here he is working his magic in the shootout to put the Aeros up. This was a huge shot to Yeo which he told us when we were asking about Josh Tordjman's game.
"He was great in the shootout," Yeo said of Tordjman. "Obviously I think it helps if you can get that early goal, and we got a couple of ones there. I think that puts a little bit more pressure on their shooters, but certainly he stood tall. It was a tough game for the goalie because we gave up way too many chances. We gave up way too much ice and space and way too many shots tonight. We have to make sure we’re a lot better there."
And here's Casey Wellman scoring in the shootout.
Oh, and just two final notes. This was the first game this season that the Aeros won after having surrendered more than four goals. And in returning player news, Nate Prosser has been reassigned to the team.