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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend wrap-up

A few notes from the weekend:

Colton Gillies was put on waivers by the Wild on Friday and, instead of clearing and coming to Houston to find his game again, the Columbus Blue Jackets snatched him from jaws of the AHL. Gillies isn't without his issues as a player, but he's a mere 22 years old and has plenty of time to mature into a game that works well at the pro level.

He's the sweetest, most "heart on his sleeve" guy I've had the pleasure of covering and is so passionate about the game. I was surprised how sad I was when he got picked up, but it's also sort of a relief. He was drafted too high for his skill level, which isn't his fault, but perhaps expectations get "right sized" with his new organization. Go to the net, kiddo, and grow some patience. You'll be fine.

On the Aeros front, they went 3 for 4 on the road and spent a few hours in a three way tie with OKC and Abbotsford for first place last night. But the other two teams played today and OKC won. And Abby plays again Monday so by 10 p.m. tomorrow, the Aeros could be back in third place.

Amazing to watch the battle for the conference lead take place in the same division like this one is doing.

The boys split the weekend in Peoria, winning Friday night pretty decisively, besting the Rivermen in shots through all three periods. Peoria scored in the first, but Aeros answered with two of their own before the period ended, and the score held for the rest of the game.

Scoring came from Fontaine, via DiSalvatore and Penner (power play goal) and Broda.  New guy, Radja, got the first assist, his first point as an Aero, and the third star of the game. Pretty nice start. Kassian got the second assist on the game winner.

Saturday night was a different story. For Peoria, it was the third game in three days, so they had no business coming out and putting up 16 shots to Houston's 8. The Aeros finally showed up in the third, but already down 2-0, their 15 shots to Peoria's 4 weren't enough to get more than 1 goal past Big Ben Bishop.

But all in all, a solid result for most any team for a road trip.

What's notable, too, were the scratches from those games. Cuma was scratched Wednesday in Grand Rapids, and Almond and Genoway were scratched in both Peoria games. Cuma, guessing by his tweets and, IIRC, what Joe said on the radio, was a healthy scratch.

Given that Almond and Genoway were scratched two nights in a row, I'm assuming they've got injuries. And perhaps that explains the Radja signing.

Anyway, I'll have more later, but here are a couple of pictures from Saturday's game courtesy of Chris "Make it Rain" Jerina.

Ortmeyer beats Bishop

Nesbitt's shot gets through Kuemper

As of this writing, Hackett is still with the big club and missing out on the rookie party downtown tonight. Here's hoping the youngsters survive with a few shreds of dignity or at least some fiendish plans for next year's kids. See you Friday!


ICEVET said...

A recent Russo comment (1/17 Rants) caught my eye, prompting some random thoughts about the Aeros:

"The WILD is a fragile team right now...I don't see how this swoon (14 losses in 16 games...dropping from 1st to 8th place in 30 days) ends"

Playing 11 games (6 against +500 teams and 6 on the road) over the same calendar stretch, the Aeros have managed a 5-5-0-1 record, using replacements and different line combinations nearly every game.

It appears that the discipline that Torchetti and his staff have maintained (with the leadership of Jed Ortmeyer and John DiSalvatore) has allowed the Aeros to manage through this Minni contagion.

It further appears that the emergence of Darcy Kuemper has been BIG. Other than being hung-out-to-dry during the January 1 OKC (6-0) total team "no-show", Kuemper has (otherwise) kept the Aeros competitive with a GAA rating under 2.00 and a Save rating of 94.5%, bench-marking the performance of top-AHL goalies.

Go Aeros!

Forecheck said...

With McIntyre and McMillan now up with the Minnesota Aeros (total FIVE forwards) it will be harder for the Houston AHL/ECHL hybrid franchise to score. The D and goalies have to come up big to keep the record during this never-ending stretch of continuing bad news at a manageable 0.500 pace.

Please, God, let it end!

Forecheck said...

"The WILD is a fragile team right now...I don't see how this swoon (14 losses in 16 games...dropping from 1st to 8th place in 30 days) ends"

Actually, having watched the first two periods of the game against the Flyers (before turning the silly thing off), and the first five minutes of the game against the Leafs (ditto), I don't think it's so much that Wild are fragile.

Frankly, they suck at hockey.

ICEVET said...

After the WILD loss to the hapless Maple Leafs, Russo (1/20 Rant) has modified his description..."a fractured team in absolute crisis
(one regulation win since December 10)".

Post-game comments by several WILD players suggest that the Team may be "throwing away the season". But, most everyone (including Mike Yeo) probably knew that making the playoffs was a stretch with the legacy players, in particular given the WILD's poor history with trades, free agents, and upper-round draft picks.

Assuming that the WILD continue down this slippery slope and fail to make the playoffs, at least the Aeros should recover all (recalled) front-liners (physically intact), boosting their playoff prospects. Hopefully, Torchetti et al. can continue to play well enough to achieve a playoff slot.

This would be the only positive for Aeros Fans to come out of the ongoing WILD debacle.

Go Aeros!

Forecheck said...

"a fractured team in absolute crisis"

Now that is a statement I can agree with.

Forecheck said...

Another Russo line :

"In a maddening display, the Wild passed into skates, coughed up pucks in the neutral zone, looked like bullfighters Ole-ing at the blue line, played pylon in the defensive zone and refused to lay bodies on net-crashing Maple Leafs.
In the offensive zone, instead of playing dump-and-chase, the Wild dumped and watched the puck come right out. "

In other words, much like an Aeros home game. Especially on the power play.

Forecheck said...

Looks like something is in the works in Minny....

Jan 20 - Recalled forwards Matt Kassian, Jed Ortmeyer, and Chad Rau and D Nate Prosser. Reassigned forwards Casey Wellman and David McIntyre to Houston of the AHL.