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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Notes, Quotes, Observations, And End Game Controversies -- A Fun Night In Houston

Sorry folks, this is going to be quick. They're doing electrical work at my apartment complex tomorrow and shutting off the power at 9:00 a.m., so I've got to get some sleep. But I wanted to throw out a few things, and answer some questions.

1. Some of you have wondered why Hamilton got so upset over the DiSalvatore game-winner, besides it being the game-winner. Hamilton was arguing that Drew MacIntyre was in control of the puck, so the whistle should have been called. This is an issue we've seen all series with the officials taking forever to blow the whistle, allowing players to play whack the goalie.

I was down at the other corner, but I checked my photos of the sequence. In most of them, I can't tell anything because there are too many players blocking my view of MacIntyre, but I do have this one photo below. And if you look closely under MacIntyre's pads -- click on the photo to enlarge it -- you'll see that the puck is free. This is just a split second before the goal is called.

Here's what Jon DiSalvatore had to say about the play: "The puck was thrown at the net. It was laying there between his pads. I think he may have thought he had it covered, so throw everything at him and see what happens. Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to get it through that guy."

2. This next sequence of photos involves the very end of the game where we had the scrum in front of Matt Hackett and where it looked like some of the Hamilton players were going to kill the officials. The issue here, as I understand it, was that the Hamilton players felt one of the Aeros, and I heard Justin Falk's name, covered the puck with his hand while in the crease, thus there should have been a penalty shot called.

This happened just in front of me, so I checked my photos. If you look closely, you'll see the puck right below the "4" of Falk's sweater. You can't see the puck in the final photo as it appears that he's rolled over on it.

Three things. If you look at the photos, it appears that Terry Koharski is looking right at the puck and at Falk. Second, from these angles, I don't see how Falk could have grabbed hold of the puck. Third, in the final photo it looks as if Warren Peters was making a grab for the puck, but that's the best shot I have as chaos ensues in the photos I have after that.

3. We get lots of access to these guys during the season, so we get to know them. And as much as advancing to the Calder Cup means to all of these guys, I think it means more to Jon DiSalvatore than it does anybody. He's spoken in the past about never winning a playoff series, and about how special this group of players is, and how much he wanted this. And now he's got it.

"You can go around the league and find maybe more talented teams than our team, just on paper," he said after the game. "But character-wise, top to bottom, the depth that’s on our team, the coaching staff. Everything has just come together so nicely and we’ve grown so much. Guys have brought into the process of maturing as people and as athletes. You see that all come together in 20 minutes of a hockey game. Everything that we battle through to persevere and come out. That’s what makes it so special. We put in all that extra time throughout the year just for a moment like that. And that’s why this team’s so special."

4. This couldn't have been an easy night for Casey Wellman. Wellman's struggled throughout out the playoffs, and tonight he was on the fourth line after having started the playoffs against Peoria on the top line. So playing on that fourth line, Wellman went out and had his best game of the playoffs, scoring the second and third goals of the game.

"This series has been a struggle," Wellman told us. "Obviously we went up three games, and lost three in a row. And personally, it’s been kind of a struggle for me. But these are the games you dream about, game sevens, and I’m glad I was able to step up for our team."

5. And we asked Mike Yeo about the move, and Yeo responded: "It’s a response by him. It’s a tremendous response, and that’s what you’re looking for, and that’s how we got to this point, really. I give Casey huge credit for the way he responded tonight…."

6. And let's hear it for you fans who were attendance. That was the loudest I've heard Toyota Center in years. There were 6,000-plus in attendance, and your presence was felt every moment. You have no idea how much it meant to the players, and how they fed off of it. That's what home ice advantage is all about.

"We haven’t been a team to go to center ice and salute the crowd before. I think it’s a great tradition, and it’s something that I would like to see," Yeo said. "But the guys thought it was appropriate tonight because that crowd was unbelievable. I thought that just the game, the excitement value of it, just the energy that the crowd brought to the game and the life that they brought to our players was phenomenal."

That's it. I'm out of here. I'll try to post a link to the mothership story whenever it goes up, providing I can find some power and a wireless connection somewhere. Also, some bad news. I'm not going to be at games one and two because of previous vacation plans, so there won't be any photos. Maybe Heather will nice enough to bring out the pen and paper and do us some stick figure drawings, though I'm sure all of her attention will be focused on Mr. Barry Brust. But the good news is that I will be in Binghamton for games four and five.

Goodnight everybody. It's been an incredible evening.


ICEVET said...

Last night was another GREAT moment in Aeros Hockey history. Regardless of what lies ahead, this SPECIAL TEAM has established itself as one of the best!!!

Three cheers for Mike Yeo who found solutions to send this SPECIAL TEAM to the Final Round......it takes a WINNER to build and nurture a Team to be better than the sum of its individual players, which he (with his talented staff) has accomplished.

A few comments:

. One of the MOST memorable post-game moments was the final embrace between two great (NHL-level) players...Nigel Dawes and Jed Ortmeyer...who made out-sized contributions to their team's effort in this series.

. Both of Casey Wellman's goals were NHL-quality shots (similar to his Game 7 Milwaukee winner)...which few (NHL) netminders could have stopped.

. Let's hope that the Houston Sports Media will now FULLY embrace this Team and help the Aeros attract very large crowds (over 10,000) to the games ahead. For Houston hockey fans, it can't get any better than this!!

Go Aeros!!!

Forecheck said...

In a series characterized by terrible officiating, and Game 7 was no exception, I'm surprised the clock controversy at the end wasn't bigger. Hamilton was cheated out of what, seven or eight seconds?


B2Bomber said...

The Hamilton take on the game. They seem to think the DiSalvatore's GWG should have been waved off:


scb said...

What a game and series!! I was worried about the goal at first and whether it was legitimate or not, but after John's comments and his view and then seeing the replay, the puck clearly is sitting there and not covered just as DiSalvatore knocks it in. Koharski is right there in perfect position (can't believe I'm saying that).

And cannot say enough about that crowd last night, can't wait for the Finals!!

Nick in New York said...

Awesome photo journalism on the two disputed plays!

will said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome night at the Toyota Center. Great work with those photos. It's funny, because you hear so much about special teams and goaltending being the difference in the playoffs, and it felt like Hamilton had the edge in both of those departments, but the Aeros got the win anyway.

Casey Wellman winning the faceoff to himself and scoring in the first, nine seconds after our first goal, was amazing.

I second your sentiments on the crowd. I left the Toyota Center with my ears ringing. Felt like I'd been to a rock concert. And the cheering continued into the parking garage. Just a special night all around.

Fred Trask said...

Great jobs with the photos John! Both series clearly show Koharski in perfect position to make the right call. I can't see how he'd miss anyone covering puck with their hand as he is literally on top of the action there, probably more than he should be.

Awesome job again!

Anonymous said...

Nice work John. That old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words earns its keep with these photos.

Fred Trask, you are a class act Sir.

Anonymous said...

You can laways go to artsandhockey for photos coverage from high up in the stands.

Anonymous said...

Ah, now we really get down to brass tacks. Here it comes friends, the Cup Finals, a rare and special event, a milestone for the Aeros' organization, the coaches, us fans, and most importantly, the players. Thanks for this fellas. Make the world sit up and take notice. Let's take it to 'em.

kwt said...

Just wanted to congratulate you Aeros fans on being able to be part of the Cup final! It's an exciting time, soak it all up!

Regarding the last goal, the terrible officiating has not been limited by any means to this series. This is... yet again... a perfect example of why the AHL should have video replay as a mandatory part of the league if they want to be taken seriously. It takes away all questions so the players and the fans can't walk away feeling like they were cheated, and gives the officials the back-up that they need sometimes. I'm not saying it wasn't a good goal, I'm just saying video replay would have backed up the call and probably made fewer hard feelings around it.

There was more than one instance of a questionable goal in the series between Hamilton and Manitoba... so I don't feel too badly for them. ;) There is at least one instance I can think of where the game was changed irrevocably in Hamilton's favour on a very, blatantly bad call. We have video replay at the MTS Centre, but the officials can't use it... and boy did the refs get booed. Aside from that bad goal, there were a few completely blown calls on goals that should have been allowed, and also on goals that shouldn't. Hopefully video replay is something the league will pursue seriously in the future.

Good luck in the finals.

ICEVET said...


To be sure, most AHL hockey fans would, instinctively, agree with your position on Official use of Video Replay. Sadly, the League still fails to "get" the importance of credible and reliable officiating in professional player development.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

I have to respectfully disagree with the previous comment. The league DOES get it, but I don't think they can afford it.

The cost to make the process uniform and fair - across the board - would cost much more than you think.

Case in point, the Toyota Center has the capability for full replay for hockey. But all of the systems are not in place to do so. It would be very costly to make that modern facility up to par.

And that is a modern facility. Think about what it would take to bring Syracuse (No offense, Crunch fans) up to speed and uniform with all of the other buildings in the land.

It's not about getting it; it's about making it fair across the board. Unfortunately, there is not yet a prudent and cost-effective way to do that for 30 teams in the vastly different buildings they all play in.

artandhockey said...

@anonymous,, I do thank you for mentioning my lttle point'm shoot's snap shots posted in artandhockey WHEN I do go to a game!

ICEVET said...

@ Andrew Ferraro:

With all due respect, you have misunderstood that my KWT comment was directed at TWO issues (should have been independent paragraphs):

(i) wide-spread fan support for Video Replay (which, as you aptly state cannot be done without expensive facility/technology retrofits and Team Owner capital calls) AND

(ii) the need for reliable and credible officiating (which the League does not "get").

With regard to my SECOND point, I doubt that any Aeros Fan who has attended the playoff games (or regular season games, for that matter) could disagree! Reasoning that the AHL is a development league for Officials (as well as players) is simply a "non-starter" for most fans across the League.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to clarify my earlier KWT comment and your professional review of the Video Replay technology/cost problem for all BLOG commentors.

Go Aeros!!!

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Oops.... yep. Totally missed the boat on your suggestion there.

I would love to hear ideas on how the league could get better officials in the playoffs.

My opinion is that the league IS sending their best officials. Or the ones, at least, that have the most potential to move on at some point.

Forecheck said...

@Andrew -

First, stop assigning your bottom feeders to the playoffs. The NHL uses their top officials for the playoffs. The playoff assignments are a reward encourage and reward good officiating.

I happen to be a person who beieves strongly in mentoring (probably since I got so little early in my carreer).If you want a development opportunity, how about a mentoring partnership with the NHL where the officiating crew consists of an up-and-coming AHL ref and an established, or perhaps better, recently retired, NHL ref? The would not only work the game together but go over the film together the next day.

Well, nice thought but it ain't gonna happen. It would require the AHL to actually spend money on something, and the AHL is all about not spending money on nuttin'.

artandhockey said...

@FC etal: if one reads the comments made by BB's Julien after TB 5-4 wins over BB (see link below)..
the officiating IN the NHL also seem to be subject of criticism.
Guess it DOES depend on which side wins or looses? ;-)


"And what was more disappointing is probably the fact that, you know, I don't know if I agree with those calls. And hopefully what was said today didn't have any impact on that, because if it did, I'd be really disappointed."
(THE word for this is talend
-hmm -;-), apropos!

ICEVET said...

@ Andrew Ferraro: "Ideas on how the League can get better officials in the Playoffs".....

Each AHL Referee has a JOB TO DO (playoffs and/or regular season), founded upon some basic elements of accountability:

. Meeting entry qualification STANDARDS

. Maintaining (off-ice...off-season) competency STANDARDS (wideo-simulation, reviewing tapes of games with known disputed calls/non-calls, etc, etc)

. Meeting basic accountability STANDARDS (measured by post-game, weekly or other timely performance reviews)

. NHL mentoring (FORECHECK's Point) to provide on-the-job training with a higher authority (with a post-game review by the NHL official)

. Written (fill-in-the blanks with narrative space) post-game performance reviews, signed by responsible party to enforce accountability (GAME SHEET format)

. AHL staff member(s) assigned to oversight the entire process (online/off-line), reporting to the AHL Management

. Reward the best performers with exclusive playoff opportunities, which will only serve to improve their reputation and accelerate their professional advancement.

All would agree that on-the-job training is vital to an Official's professional development, but this process cannot be "out-of-sight, out-of-mind". Hopefully, the League can make changes to its current system to give the fans and players BETTER RESULTS.

Go Aeros!!!

artandhockey said...

well laid out plan ICEVET. Now if someone in the AHL "training school for officials" just would take heed!

Forecheck said...

In a series characterized by terrible officiating, and Game 7 was no exception, I'm surprised the clock controversy at the end wasn't bigger. Hamilton was cheated out of what, seven or eight seconds?

I watched the game again on AHLlive last night. Actualy they were cheated out of at most two seconds. Immaterial, since the Aeros won the face-off and cleared.