I don't do a lot of road trips with the Aeros, but boy did I choose a good one. With Chris Jerina in town, we made the trek to Cedar Park and even though I have bags you could run away from home with under my eyes today, it was well worth it.
The early goal by McMillan was a little fluky and when the Stars answered with that shorthanded goal and the Aeros started to look a little rattled, I thought, "Uh oh."
But just a few nice plays by your teammates can calm a team down and boost the confidence, and the Aeros got that from Jed Ortmeyer and Dennis Endras. Ortmeyer set up some beautiful chances on goal and was just completely clutch. And Endras made huge save after save at really critical times that could have put the Stars up 2-1 very easily.
But by the end of the period, the Aeros had settled into a nice rhythm. The Stars led for shots, but the Aeros led for goals and from there, it was the kind of hockey we all saw in through the playoffs last year. Just wave after wave of badassery.
And by the third period, Stars goalie Bachman was on the bench and Beskorowany was in, but never looked comfortable. Understandably so, too.
I like how this team looks going into today's game, and even as ugly as that last game against Abbotsford was, Coach Torchetti feels the same. Even though I felt the Aeros were on their heels from the word go in that game, he felt like without the penalties, that game would have looked very different.
And while there were a couple of penalties he didn't like last night in Texas, he felt better about the team's discipline.
"Everything we discussed last night, we did a lot better tonight," Torchetti said. "We wanted to be hard to play against and I think we did that tonight."
I thought it was interesting that he had Endras play the middle game of the 3 in 3 rather than sticking him with the stinky third game like the back-up usually gets saddled with.
Whether it was to yank Hackett's chain a little after Friday's Jeckyll and Hyde performance or to reward Endras for his good play that's so far gone unrewarded by the Aeros playing poorly in front of him, I couldn't get Torchetti to say. But he did have high praise for his tenders.
"You know what, our goaltending, they're both hardworking guys. Endras has worked hard in practice... for someone to sit there for almost a week and not play, that's a great performance by him. He's a really hard worker, and his teammates know that and they want to play hard for him."
I asked him if he thought Endras stole the game at times. If the Aeros hadn't been able to rack up 5 goals, Endras' performance was unquestionably star-worthy. In fact, the one goal against was on that breakaway and he had to sprawl so thoroughly to make that save, there was no way he could have gotten back for the rebound. His defense needed to be a little sharper there and clear that out or play a little goalie themselves.
"Again, that's his work ethic in practice. He's willing to take shots after, and... that's our goaltending! Our goaltending, it's frustrates our team because it's tough to score in practice. So, that's what makes you better. I've been on a lot of teams with some good goalies and it makes your players want to work harder to try and score goals."
That's all! I'll throw up some of Jerina's pics and then see you all this afternoon.