The teams traded goals in regulation, and after the Aeros wasted a power play gift late in the third period, Zucker and Larsson teamed up for the stunning finish (video below). The goal tied the AHL record for the fastest overtime goal. Zucker's goal tied the record set by Dave Saatzer of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs in 1980, and tied by Chris Corrinet of the Portland Pirates in 2002.
The AHL schedule gods were on the Aeros side this weekend for sure. The Heat, playing its third game in three days, made just enough mistakes to let the Aeros get an extra point in the standings.
Make no mistake: The Heat is the best team the Aeros have played so far on both sides of the puck. They have points in all but two (16 of 18) of their games thus far. OKC, who is here later this week, surely has more offensive power, but the Heat are smart, well coached, have the league's top PK united and they have three (THREE!) goalies that can steal two points on any given night.
Some high-level themes that stood out for me include the Aeros giving up two goals on turnovers. Everyone we talked to after the game said exactly the same thing: The Heat wait for you to make a bad mistake, and they punish you quickly.
Hackett again solid, letting in just two goals and giving his team a chance to win. When only two go in, you have a chance to win every game. On the first Heat goal, Hack made a great save, then got a little post luck before a Charlie Coyle turnover led to a 1-1 game. Hackett was screened on the second goal after Connelly and Bagnall both turned the puck over ... and then Zucker missed a block. After all that, Estoclet gets in front of Hackett, distracting him just enough. Click below for a good view of how that play developed.
Taylor was good, too, but the Aeros wasted about 3-4 other prime chances that would have kept the Heat from getting the OT point. McIntyre missed a breakaway, and one player (I was reading something and looked up just in time to see the end of it) missed an open net after Taylor was caught out of position in the second period.
UPDATE - Thanks to the Art and Hockey blog, we find out that it was Palmer who missed the empty netter. And she got a splendid picture of the aftermath. But don't look at the hockey players, look at the fans (including one of the Anthem singers in Row 2) ... their faces say it all!
|MY, oh MY! (Photo by Art and Hockey)|
The goal scored at the end of the second was indeed about a half second too late. The officials got the calls right on both calls (when Mac hit the crossbar on the breakaway and the late goal at the end of the second).
As for the final sloppy power play - look, that is what you are going to get with a ton of rookies and second-year players getting a season-long baptism by fire. The younger players are the more gifted scorers, and they are going to hit one night (see Friday's late PP goal in San Antonio) and they are going to strikeout the next. What I would like to them them improve upon is the desperation to keep the puck in the zone. While I know you don't want to over commit and cause a breakaway, there are a few players that look a little laggard when it comes to keeping a play alive.
I am not going to mention names here, because I have only seen about a third of the games live this year. I think this is an effort issue and not an growing pains issue, so I will wait and see if I see any improvement from these players this weekend.
The Aeros are in the top third of the league in points and points percentage. Given the injury to their top two (arguably) playmakers and (not arguably) one of their top scorers, I think you'll take that.
So what are your thoughts on the game? The Aeros earned four out of four points this weekend and have won three in a row and four of five overall.
|Off the post ... and in. (Photos by Morris Molina, Houston Aeros)|
|Justin Fontaine has 14 points in November. He is en fuego.|