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

Monday, January 7, 2013

Aeros fight for point, but lose to Stars in OT

I did not get back to Houston until really late last night, so I do apologize for the tardiness of this quick recap.

The Aeros scored a goal in each period during regulation, but a five-minute brain fart in the middle of the second period erased any chance for the team to stay ahead of Texas in the standings.

Texas won the game 4-3. 

Zucker celebrates after providing the secondary assist
on the game-tying goal - Photo by Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars
The Aeros got goals from Petersen, Phillips and Larsson to get the game to overtime, but a bad penalty by David McIntyre sent the Stars on their game-winning power play. You just can't give up nine power play chances and expect to win on the road, especially when a third of your roster is on its annual trip to the disabled list.

The McIntyre call was legit, but the Aeros got baited into a bad game of "my pee-pee is bigger than yours" with referee Mark Lemelin. The Aeros lost this fight, and it cost them a point in the standings.

I am not blaming the officiating for this loss. It wasn't good, but ultimately three things cost the Aeros and they all worked against them as their road losing streak got just a little bigger. First, the turnover than led to the shorthanded goal that tied the game 1-1.

Bad play.

Then, after Phillips scored a pretty goal to get the lead back, the Aeros ECHL squad got caught looking around a bit and gave up Mike Hedden's first goal of the season. On the ice for that one? Derek Couture, Tyler Ludwig and Rob Mingardi. The vets on the ice for that one were Chad Rau and Steven Kampfer, who is still working his way back after a long term injury. He was minus two Sunday.

And then the third bad play was the McIntyre trip. That happened right near the blue line in the Stars end, and it really just wasn't a good penalty to take, especially when Lemelin just couldn't wait to throw his arm up in the air. Late in the third, he even called the old delay of game call on Matt Hackett with four minutes left in the regulation.

I know that trapezoid is there for a reason, but come on ... it was verrrryyy close, and that is overlooked many, many times throughout the season. I can't lie, though, Hackett was really on edge the whole game, and I was kind of hoping the Stars would covert there to see how he and Torchetti would react to that.

Please read Heather's recap here.

There were a lot of positives from the game, too.
The power play converted twice again. The Aeros killed off two 5-on-3s and the character they showed to kill those off and give the a point when Larsson scored in the third was impressive.

After the game, Torchetti said that he was very proud of his team for getting a point.

"Probably one of my better moments coaching with a team like that - how we battled," said Torchetti.

The No. 1 star of the game Sunday? Mark Lemelin ... 
The kill, especially Hackett, looked really good on that last Stars power play in regulation on the delay call to Hackett. And again, to battle on the road game in the third of a three and three, kill all of those penalties and still get a point ... good game by the Aeros, even if it was a bit wacky there in the second period.

Even with the sunshine there, I am VERY worried about the team right now. Connelly missed the game due to the shoulder injury in the Saturday win, and Bagnall played injured in the third period Sunday and then was not able to put weight on his left ankle/knee/leg at the end of regulation.

Now the lockout is over, and the Aeros are going to lose a few more players this weekend, just in time for another three in three.

I am curious to see how the Aeros handle the roster now, especially with the clock ticking away on the Toyota Center lease. Don't think for one second Jim Mill won't do what's best for the the team - he personally cares for the team's success more than just about more than any of his peers.

But the next four six weeks are going to be VERY interesting. Stay tuned.

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