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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Aeros play a home and home series against OKC this weekend

Everyone thought that the OKC Barons would disappear off the face of the earth when the Oilers recalled all of their best players to the NHL after the lockout was lifted.

They sulked for a few weeks, but they are back to playing decent hockey again under Todd Nelson. They have points in four of their last five with three wins, and they are in the middle of a stretch where they will play eight straight two-game series against various teams.

Six games into that stretch, they've split two of those series and swept the Grand Rapids Griffins at home. If I were a bettin' man, I'd put my money on another split this weekend against the Aeros.

The Barons can score enough goals to win usually; their problems usually stem from the blueline and their rock solid goalie from last season, Yann Danis, has been a human being this year.

The Aeros are still missing several key players due to injury and callup, so they likely won't hit four goals unless the Barons really don't come to play this weekend.

Houston is currently fifth in the conference and currently on a mathematical pace to land the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. Most AHL experts think and agree that 86 points will get you into the playoffs, and the Aeros are still 25 points away from that.

Still a long way to go, but they are in better shape than some other teams below them in the standings.

Also, the crowd Saturday night is going to be massive - the lower bowl is sold out, and they are busy selling seats upstairs. The Aeros have played pretty good in front of large crowds the last two years, but it is autograph night and that usually spells doom for our boys.

Here are some notes on the Aeros and Barons from the Aeros PR office:

Houston Aeros (27-19-4-3, 61 points) at Oklahoma City Barons (23-19-2-5, 53 points)

The Houston Aeros and the Oklahoma City Barons meet for the eighth of 12 games this season. The Aeros took the last meeting on Jan. 1, a 4-2 win for Houston at the Toyota Center – the team’s fifth straight win over Oklahoma City. The first three meetings of the season were at the Cox Convention Center in downtown OKC. The Barons visited the Toyota Center for the first time this season with a pair of games in late November. Houston swept the two-game set with a 2-1 shootout win on Nov. 29 and a 4-3 regulation win on Nov. 30. Houston has taken six of the seven previous meetings this year (6-1-0-0), including three shootout wins.

Houston plays the final of eight straight on the road. The longest road trip of the season has included stops in Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Rockford, Texas, Rochester, Hamilton, Toronto and Oklahoma City. The team will travel 6,496 miles over 17 days prior to returning to home ice on Saturday, Feb. 27 to host the OKC Barons. The Aeros claimed a 2-1 shootout decision on Monday night at Toronto, moving to 5-2-0-0 on the road trip. The win moved Houston to 14-11-2-1 on the road and 6-4-0-0 over the last ten games.

Oklahoma City enters Friday’s game coming off a 4-0 loss at Texas on Feb. 16. The team is 15-8-2-1 at home this season and 5-3-0-2 over the last ten games. The Barons have three straight wins at home, where they outscore their opponents 91-83.

Over the last three years, Houston and Oklahoma City have met 25 times. The Aeros are 16-6-0-3 all-time, including a 9-2-0-2 record on home ice. Oklahoma City is 9-9-1-6 all-time against Houston, including a 5-6-1-4 record at Toyota Center. Oklahoma City claimed three of four in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs and posted a 7-0-0-1 record during the 2011-12 regular season against Houston. The Barons outscored the Aeros 26-12 last season, posting a perfect 4-0-0-0 mark at home and a 3-0-0-1 record at the Toyota Center. Houston took nine out of 10 games in 10-11.

Houston has outscored Oklahoma City 27-20 in the seven previous meetings this season. The Aeros are 8-for-31 (25.8%) on the power play against the Barons this year, while Oklahoma City is 7-for-28 (25%) in the series. Six of the top seven scorers for Oklahoma City against Houston are now in the NHL. Defenseman Justin Schultz (2g,7a), forward Jordan Eberle (2g,7a), forward Taylor Hall (4g,3a), Teemu Hartikainen (1g,3a), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1g,2a) and Magnus Paajarvi (1g,2a) are all with the Edmonton Oilers. Center Mark Arcobello is the series’ active leading scorer with four goals and six assists for ten points in seven games against the Aeros. The Aeros are missing two of their top three scorers against OKC this season. Jason Zucker (5g,3a) is currently in Minnesota with the Wild. Defenseman Brian Connelly (8a) has been out with an injury. Forwards Justin Fontaine and Charlie Coyle are also among the team leaders. Fontaine has three goals and seven points in six games against the Barons, while Coyle has three goals and six points in seven games. 


ICEVET said...

Your projections for a full house for tonight's game at TC sound great....strong fan turnout, in the waning days, will go a long way toward "paying final respects to" the RICH hockey tradition and culture which the Aeros have cultivated in Houston.

The Aeros recent (9-4) Run was driven, in large part, by (i) 2 Kuemper shutouts and (ii) a 5-0 record, when the Aeros potted at least 3 goals/game against the opposition.

Last night, however, 3 goals were simply not enough to Win, as the Aeros (AHL #28 ranked) netminder allowed 4 goals, including 2 in a stretch of under 20 seconds. This is not the pathway to any seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Hopefully, this netminder (and his defense) register a better performance in front of tonight's large crowd of loyal fans.

Go Aeros!

Forecheck said...

OK, I admit it - I turned the silly thing off at 3-0. Looks like I missed a strong comeback that finished a little short.

Two VERY annoying things last night.

1) The OKC arena announcer. Good grief! He's more annoying than most NBA arena announcers. Maybe he's just new to hockey and doesn't realize that when you have a sport that - unlike basketball - actually sells itself, you don't need to hype it to death.

2) The attendance last night looked like under 1000 actually there at OKC. We will have maybe 11,000 tonight - during the rodeo. They are keepign their team, and we are potentially losing ours?

Anonymous said...

So when somebody writes in a nice comment about 31 it never gets published here.. What a joke ! Even the site hates on this kid you guys should be ashamed

John Royal said...

Write a comment and we'll publish it. I have approved every comment that has come in the past several weeks.

Anonymous said...

Matt Hackett is awesome!

Ms. Conduct said...

See? Just like that. It's not rocket surgery.

Anonymous said...

Funny how people always whine about how "31" comments don't get posted. It's not the people who run this sites fault that majority of people prefer to write about the goalie with the better stats that would be first in the ahl with GAA and SV% if he had enough minutes, which he would if he hasn't been gone for the last 2 weeks. Maybe quit complaining and trying to lessen the sites credibility and write a comment yourself then!

Other note, I'd love to see Darcy play tonight, his first two NHL games have been excellent. Sadly I'd say there is a 1% chance he gets the start tonight.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear the Aeros will have a big crowd for their return from the road, but if the lower bowl is already sold out, I would expect a larger crowd than 11,000. A better start to the game than last night would be a good thing for the faithful followers.

Not sure why, but I read a lot of negative comments here concerning the Aeros moving out of town after this season. What are these based on? Has Minnesota already chose to move away from Houston to whiter pastures, but is waiting till the end of the season to announce it? Is Les Alexander adamant on running hockey completely out of Houston, and refuses to negotiate in good faith? I know Sioux Falls has a new arena coming in 2014, but in my opinion, maybe Edmonton needs to move OKC to Sioux Falls (or Tulsa) instead.

Forecheck, I totally agree with your opinion that hockey sells itself, and doesn't need the hype like basketball. But things are looking better for our sport. TV ratings are much better this season, and 85,000 people watched 4 games in Chicago last Sunday (Hockey City Classic, Blackhawks, Wolves, Ice Hogs). Almost 20,000 watched an AHL game in Philly last night. Hockey is growing, and it would be a shame to lose our team now.

Anonymous said...

So when Hack goes 1 star against texas, second star against rochester, and 1st star against Toronto .. In games that they had no buisness winning nobody says a word... Thats great fan support ... Thumbs up to you guys. He won those games by himself and all the people who chirp his game said nothing in that stretch but now that he lost a game last night everyone is back to saying stuff.. Great fans you guys got in Houston. The team is deffinitly happy they are leaving ,fans don't understand Hockey in texas i guess..

ICEVET said...

@ Anon

You said "the team is definitely (sp) happy they are leaving, fans don't understand hockey in Texas, I guess"....

To be sure, there are currently, at least EIGHT (8) hockey teams in Texas (Killer Bees and Laredo Bucks excluded), including the NFL Dallas Stars....arguably, the fans who support these teams do, in fact, understand the great game of hockey.

Further, your flippant comment about the team wanting to leave lacks credibility. In fact, the imminent relocation (from the 5th largest US metro geo-market) will be a very difficult transition for everyone involved, including the WILD, Aeros coaching staff, Aeros management, employees and each and every member of the current roster.

Relax and enjoy live hockey while we still have it.

Go Aeros!

Anonymous said...

The "NFL" Dallas Stars ... Proves my point exactly

Forecheck said...

@Annon #2

The Aeros' lease expires at the end of this season.

We know that before the currentlease was signed, the Wild were were seriously thinking of relocating the Aeros to Des Moines, but decided against it.

The problem for the Wild here is the farm team is very far away from home base, and the TC is expensive to lease vs. a 8-10K arena somewhere. There is no such arena, or one with conrete plans, in Houston.

On the positive side, Houston has great air connections and prepares the guys for life in the big city. It's also a good draw for free agents and coaches.

That's where the facts essentially end.

Le$ is BELIEVED to be of the opinion that the Aeros take too many good concert dates away from him and only put 6K in the building those nights.

Of course, the HSA is also involved and I'm sure that the league wants to have a team in Houston which is in the top third or better in attendance.

I doubt we will hear anything official until April. As of today, there is no knowledge of the Wild talking with another city (though due dilligence would say they should be at least be "talking" to a few).

Anonymous said...

Not sure where anyone would come off saying Houston hockey fans don't understand the game. I can't speak for other Texas cities, but the fan base here in Houston seems very hockey savvy, and I would think the same is true elsewhere. With the growth in hockey in Texas, comes knowledge of the game. In fact, in 2010-11 registered players in youth hockey in Texas reached 11,661, an increase of 6.9% from the previous year. Compare this to the early 1990's when it was probably a few hundred. Oh, and although I'm not an Aggie, congrats to their ice hockey team for making the ACHA regionals in Salt Lake City with a 30-7 record. Lost a heartbreaker today though, 4-2 to Colorado State.

Anonymous said...

I second that! It does seem as though people on this blog do have a tendency to place the blame far too often on #31's shoulders without taking into consideration lapses in defence, types of shots and other extraneous factors.

ICEVET said...

From Center Ice.....

In the eyes of this Fan, Matt Hackett played his BEST game in nearly 2 seasons (since the 2011 Calder Finals), tonight....the Arcobello goal could have gone either way.

Indeed, the crowd of almost 12,500 (largest of the season) witnessed a VERY well-played and exciting hockey game.

Go Aeros!

ICEVET said...

To All Commentors.....

Kindly disregard the "typo" on my 3:16pm comment (should read as the...NHL...Dallas Stars). Hope I did not offend any "football" fans.

Go Aeros!

artandhockey said...

A good game was had tonight. And mostly due to Hackett who played as he CAN play! And has in seasons past!

Forecheck said...

Regarding Saturday night -

First, HOW DARE THEY INTERRUPT A JOURNEY SONG for anything. Especially the crap they interrupted Mr. Perry and band for.

Second, how can Hackett stop 36 of 37 and NOT be FIRST star? Maybe people in Houston don't know anything about hockey after all.

Third, not a good sign the Gabe is bailing from hjis job with the Aeros. "Retiring" from his job at his age? Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

1. Backstrom is an UFA after this season, Hackett is RFA after this season. Hackett can be awesome and terrible in back to back games. He has an above average experienced defense in front of him now. Bottom line the rest of the season/playoffs will tell his future. I wish him all the best and hope he gets what he earns.

2. If the Aeros didn't want to pay for the Toyota Center they would have been renovating the Berry or Merrel Center to add ice. So I imagine there will be either a one year lease signed at TC then they move to them to SD when that arena is ready, or they sign another 5+ year lease at TC. I pray for the second option.

Go Aeros and here's to another CC run. Unfinished Business.

Anonymous said...

Hacks back! Great win last night, and we sent a huge crowd home happy. Now back to being road warriors again (at completly opposite ends of the country).

I also wondered about the Berry or Merrel Centers as options for the Aeros, but maybe they're just too far out of town to be realistic. Both arenas are first class facilities, but both would need ice plants and that would take time. Time they don't have for next season.

Forecheck said...

@Anon number thirt.... or whatever...

Hackett can not only be great in one game and terrible the next, this season he has been great and terrible in the same game.

Let's hope that the last few games become the norm!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Forecheck.
What has 31 done to you? You just had to add in ONE MORE negative comment about the kid. How many games have you actually seen this year? Out of 55 games, how many? Are you going by stats & a handful of live games? Stats as you should probably know don't tell the whole story. As Joe has mentioned On Air, the Toyota Center is not kind to Shots on Goal stats. Also, stats don't show breakaways, two on one's, two on nones, own goals etc...I think you expect perfection, which obviously is impossible. You rarely complain about forwards or defenseman. It's easy to blame the goalie.