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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hackett, Kampfer lead Aeros to 2-1 win over the OKC Barons

With more than 12,000 fans in their seats, the Aeros won for the 10th time in their last 15 games with a 2-1 win over the OKC Barons Saturday night at Toyota Center.

Goals by newly acquired Dan DaSilva and Steven Kampfer led the way offensively, and that proved to be enough for Matt Hackett, who continued his strong play since Darcy Kuemper got the call up to the Minnesota Wild.

Hackett made double-digit saves in every period, and needed every one of them in the third period, as the Aeros were out-shot 13-6. For his efforts, Hackett was named the No. 3 star of the game.

Kampfer got the first star with a goal and an assist, and his first of the season was good for the game winner. I know I have said it quite a few times on this blog during the last month or so, but Kampfer's turnaround this season has been impressive.

In Nov, Dec, and his first four games in 2013, he was minus-22 with just two assists. In the 16 games since then, he's plus-8 with a goal and seven assists. Hackett, too, had a great February. Saturday, he finished the month with a 5-3 record and his goals against was 2.22 with a .928 saves percentage.

Aeros hold on for 2-1 win - Photo by Morris Molina
Big picture wise, I don't know how they keep doing it. This roster shouldn't be 10-5 in their last 15 games and the seventh best team - point-wise - in the entire AHL. John Torchetti is getting the most out of Chad Rau and David McIntyre and Jim Mill has found suitable plugs to keep the ship more than just afloat.

The Aeros will get some much-needed practice time this week before making trips to Abbotsford and Charlotte for their next four games.

Their comeback in OKC fell just short Friday night, and the Aeros were able to get two points out of the weekend with the win on Saturday. With 21 games left in the season, it is believed that the Aeros will need 23 more points to hit the imaginary mark of 86 to make the playoffs.

Let's hope there is enough left in the tank for 12-14 more wins.


Anonymous said...

Great game Hackett really performed in spite of his momentary lapse of attention on the turnover/goal. Hey...what would be the matter with the Berry center for a venue?

ICEVET said...

The (pleasant) surprise of this game was the performance of Ontario Reign-PTO Dan DaSilva who participated in both Aeros goals and nearly potted another on a nifty behind-the-net-move in the second period.

His Baby-SHARK playoff history (18 pts in 23 games) and current track with the Reign (42 pts in 34 games) are compelling stats.

This could be a timely move for the Aeros, much like Matt Beaudoin was during the 2008-9 Calder playoff season.

Go Aeros!

Anonymous said...

i noticed the link for the wbs
penguins on the right side of your site is dead. here's the new one.


Forecheck said...

WRT the Berry Center - there is no ice, and it would take millions of dollars and many months of downtime to install.

There is a geographic issue too - the "non-compete with the Toyota Center" clause of the law which brought us the HSA, though I imagine it could be ruled unconstitutional after spending millions on lawyers. It's essentially a government granted monopoly to Le$ Alexander.

I think the ultimate answer for minor league hockey in Houston is a new 8-10K stadium with purpose-built rink. It would have to be built outside of Houston and Harris County to get it out of the juristiction of the HSA. That means Sugarland or Pearland.

Unfortunately, no such faciliity is on the boards anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Presumably Montgomery County is in the same category--outside the HSA jurisdiction but without current facilities or plans to build them? I wonder which locale could sustain the largest crowds traveling from other parts of the greater Houston area to a game, given appropriate parking. (Local fan base, traffic conditions, etc. all being considerations.)

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "non-compete clause", would this deem a new Reliant Arena off limits to the Aeros, since it would be in Harris County? Seems I remember reading an ice surface would be included if that facility is replaced.

Forecheck said...

A rebuilt Astro arena would be OK. It's really a non-compete with the HSA.

Rest assured, Le$ will get his money somehow.

Anonymous said...

The non compete has two variables. It was based on a range outside of the Toy-Box of which the Reliant is out of I believe and the second part is that the Reliant city is a Harris County property. The deal is with the city of Houston and Harris County is not bound by the deal. What I dont know is how the Dynamo stadium got around that loophole.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm back to suggesting the Berry Center.

Anonymous said...

I think people are mischaracterizing the non-compete deal with Toyota Center. It says the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority cannot “directly or indirectly, finance, subsidize, provide any incentives for, or otherwise assist any venue…which could compete with the Arena for events of a type appropriate for the Arena and generally targeted at audiences in excess of 5,000…” that are located within 10 miles of Toyota Center.

So the non-compete only comes into play if the HHCSA is involved with a venue. It is not a blanket prohibition on building or improving a building. The Dynamo did not use the HCHSA to build their stadium but when they gave the building to the City the HCHSA took over management of it. That required BBVA Compass Stadium to make a deal with Toyota Center to avoid hosting events that might be held at there.


Anonymous said...

Well, if Les Alexander has determined that minor league hockey is not financially viable for the Toyota Center, then the non compete clause should not apply to any new hockey rink seating something under 10,000. If he prices hockey out of the arena, no one should be prevented from doing or building anything.

John Royal said...

The problem with Reliant isn't Les and the non-compete. The problem at Reliant is the Rodeo and building availability. Sunday games will be reliant on whether he Texans are in town. In January, Saturday's and Sundays will be difficult to schedule because of NFL playoffs. The Aeros aren't a Monster Truck Jam -- you just can't move the game to a month later at a whim because the Texans are playing a playoff game on a Saturday night.

Then comes February and March when the Rodeo takes over. One of the reasons the Dome is just an empty hulk is that the Rodeo has vetoed every plan for it since that plan would interfere with their PETA-nightmare.

As for Merrill and Berry, moving there will be suicide if the team plans to keep decent attendance figures.

ICEVET said...

@ John Royal:

Your comment hits the nail on the head.

Should Mr. Alexander elect not to allow TC access, the Aeros MUST relocate...there is no other viable option.

The WILD (Craig Leopold) Control Group has had several years (including the Lockout Period) to do its "homework" on the consequences of TC non-renewal. Since they effectively control the premier North American hockey / entertainment venue in the #1 US Hockey City, it is reasonable to conclude that an internal default-decision has been made and will be promptly released at season's end.

Alternatively, it is common knowledge that Mr. (Billionaire) Alexander.....a hard-nosed bond/option trader who acquired the Rockets in 1993 and attempted, without success, to (i) buy / relocate the NHL Edmonton Oilers in 1998 and (ii) buy the Houston Dynamo in 2012.....has been on a quixotic quest for another major professional sports franchise.

Most would argue that Mr. Alexander has little or no chance of landing a Houston NHL franchise in the distant future, (either through League expansion or relocation of an existing franchise...Coyotes for example). To be sure, Portland, Kansas City, Seattle, Quebec City, and Halifax would, undoubtedly, rank well ahead of Houston in the balloting.

This loyal fan, for one, will surely miss the Aeros and live hockey in Houston.

Anonymous said...

So the future of hockey in Houston could be a rebuilt Reliant Arena. The future of the NHL in Houston apparently is not even in Houston, but in some outlying community which would build a new arena outside of Le$ Alexander's kingdom. How is it that our state neighbors to the north have an NHL team, and in the neighborhood, 2 CHL teams (Allen and Ft. Worth), and an NAHL team (Frisco), and we're discussing losing our ONLY team. Sad times indeed for Houston hockey fans.

Forecheck said...

@Anonymous -

Ah, wrong.... except for the last point.

Le$ is the only way an NHL team would work in Houston (work as to be in existence for 2-3 years before being sold to someone wwho would take them out of Houston).

There is no way a new TC-like arena could be supported by an NHL team alone in Houston. The TC is supported by the Rockets. The question of NHL/AHL or no hockey is settled by what would make Le$ more money.

The largest city in Texas without any hockey would be a shame, indeed.

Anonymous said...

this is the third time my comments have not been posted.
seems every time i say something contrary to the owner of tc i get zapped.

John Royal said...

Every comment that I know of has been approved and posted.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

They do, we don't delete anything unless is is X-rated, basically.

Anonymous, I think, either forgets which post he replies to or is not up to snuff with the current state of the interwebs.

Anonymous said...

I would never post anything x-rated although the thought has crossed my mind.
I'm currently on numerous medications so that might be the case. Certainly appreciation the response.
My last comment was on the feasibliity of an nba/nhl franchise existing in tc. You would still have the same issue of concerts, etc.
After the newness of the team wears off, unless you have an instant playoff contender would not you have the same attendance issues if not less that exist now?

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

No worries at all. We all like to have a little fun on our side, but we don't sensor unless we absolutely have to ...

Thanks for your feedback!

Anonymous said...

Why do people keep talking about Les A. getting an NHL team here? I've heard several hockey folks on the hockey station (XM radio), including Gary Bettman, say they have no plans any time in the near future to expand the league. Have also heard that IF the Coyotes are relocated it will be to Canada or a longshot is Seattle. If the Aeros go, it will be a long, long time before anyone sees hockey in this town again.

Anonymous said...

Le$ will NEVER own an NHL team here. I still think a new Reliant Arena gets built, and thats where the Aeros will play. If this location is outside of Le$'s radius of comfort, then maybe it will be built large enough to host an NHL team, with some other owner (didn't Bob McNair try to bring an NHL team here once upon a time) at the helm. As has already been brought up in this post, the constitutionality of the "non-compete clause" would probably result in a verdict much to Le$'s dislike. If someone else really wanted to bring a team here, I wouldn't worry about the "non-compete clause".

Go Aeros!

Anonymous said...

The Reliant Arena doesn't have ice and as mentioned it would make weekend games there pretty difficult if it did, no one shows up for weekday games now so I think it is either Toyota Center or move next season. It is going to hurt season ticket renewals if there is no new lease signed soon also. I know Im not resigning for my seats if they are probably moving and if its just a 1 year lease we know they are leaving so they'll be giving away free seats like crazy to get someone to showup. In my opinion they have done a terrible job of pr with this issue, no updates just leaving everything to speculation. Even my ticket guy doesn't call this season like before so I guess they are avoiding questions. Of course its a new guy every few months so who knows. Anyway love the Aeros and hope they get it figured out

Anonymous said...

No, Reliant Arena doesn't currently have ice, and is too small (5,000) anyway. Plus it's a dump. There have been some preliminary plans on replacing the current Reliant Arena with a new facility with a capacity in the 8,000 - 10,000 range (perfect for AHL hockey, but way to small for the NHL). If this facility is built, perhaps in the next few years, Houston could once again have a hockey team. Le$ has already stated he wants more concerts, not hockey, at his arena, so don't count on the Aeros returning until another facility is built.

Forecheck said...

Is it too much too ask people too at leat get a screen name for this blog? Too many people posting as anonymous. You can't tell who ia whom.

BTW , Hamilton just renewed their lease and affiliation.

Strange that with probably less than 1000 people at the Heat game last night Andrews still thinks Abbotsford is still a "viable market" but the Aeros who draw 6500 a night are unwelcome at the TC.

MK. VIII said...

Regarding Abbotsford, apparently they are moving to Utica, so maybe they aren't such a viable market as Mr. Andrews states. If Mr. Andrews is adamant about a west coast presence in the AHL (as he stated in his 'state of the league' address last month), moving teams back to the northeast seems odd.


Regarding the Aeros, tough loss last night after spending the first 5 minutes of the 3rd on the penalty kill, and giving up the lead. Quick shot at redemption tonight.

Forecheck said...

The Heat move to Utica looks a little thin from 10,000 ft. I'm not sure Utica has a proper arena. I know the AHL used to play there, but that was 20 years ago. They've lost a lot of population since then.

This would be another case of putting a team where the AHL has failed before, much like moving a team to Des Moines.

It could happen,yes, but it doesn't look cast in concrete.

MK. VIII said...

Aeros back in the win column after another solid performance from Matt Hackett, and a 4-point night from Johan Larsson. A couple of key games in Charlotte next weekend, then we're finally home for a good stretch to finish out the season.

Keep it going, Aeros!

Anonymous said...

So how many concerts have they had or missed out on at Toyota Center so far this year? The Aeros have only played there 9 times this year from 1/1 - 3/14. The Toyota Center concert series has weeks between dates after hockey/basketball season is over... Seems June to October should be prime concert season and it's wide open..? IF Les does run the Aeros out they need to put some ice down in Berry or Merrell and bring in an ECHL team. Hold out hope. BTW sounded like a great game last night! I can't wait for a blow out at home. My favorite last season was v Grand Rapids 5-1 and Cody Almond, Bagnall and a couple others just squaring off and fighting all at the same time, reminded me of the IHL. Good times Go Aeros!

Anonymous said...

Lets look at the demographics of why these small markets are so tough. The population of des moines is roughly 250,000 people. The whole state is roughly 3 million people. For the arena to sell out in Des Moines you would need 5% of the city's entire population to attend. Travel will be expensive to and from this market for the team, and they will be lucky to put 2000 fans in stands on a saturday after the newness wears out.

Forecheck said...

@ Anon #47 -

I hav been wondering this too lately.

First home many people attend a concert at TC on the average, especialy with the competition from the CWM Pavillion and now Constellation Field?

I admit I am no fan of pop culture or any of the people who perform at the TC (I can't stand the NBA "culture", either) but is the average concert the 5,000 or 10,000 or what? For me, it's the symphony, TUTS or AD players, which are of course nowhere near that big.

If it is taking up too many Saturday nights, the Aeros rarely play Saturday night at the TC. IF Friday's were an issue, the league could schedule more Tuesday/Thursday games. I'm sure the league will do what they can to keep a team i Houston - one of their better markets.

I'm wondering if this isn't so much Le$ than the Wild trying to reduce the cost of the farm team by moving to a cheaper arena closer to Minny.

I dunno. Some days I am convinced the Aeros are staying, others I'm convinced they are gone. Then there are days like today where I think it could go either way. The lack of concrete rumors of a specific city (unlike the Des Moines move five years ago) is at least a positive.

Forecheck said...

@ The most recent anonymous (I think)

I actually have friends who just moved to Des Moines. They told me the Metro population is almost 600K

OldFan said...

Per Forecheck's request I'm trying to figure out how to set up a name so I won't have to be Anonymous #47.

MK. VIII said...

@ Forecheck...

Ha, not sure what "NBA culture" is, but a lot of weird ideas entered my head.

My opinion, but I've always thought the idea of the Aeros having their own arena, with a capacity of 8,000 - 12,000 for an AHL team, is what is needed going forward. The only ideas I've seen concerning this, is the one proposal made about rebuilding Reliant Arena. The only issue with a new Reliant Arena would be taking a "rodeo road trip" every year, but that is a minor issue, as all teams have extended road trips every year. Since the NFL schedule is known well in advance of the AHL schedule, I don't think any issues with Texans games would exist. Of course, if some outlying Houston community sees an opportunity with having a top-level minor league hockey franchise in their city, I would think the Aeros would still receive good support. This set-up seems to work in Cedar Park, where the Stars had to locate, instead of Austin.

Forecheck said...

Why not incorporate the Aeros as PART of the Rodeo a few days?

Buy a Sunday evening ticket, get into General Admission at the Aeros free that afternoon?

Newbies! First timers! Potential addicts!!

Anonymous said...

Very intrigued by the idea of "Rodeo on Ice." Would love to see zamboni races a la the chuck wagon racing...

(soon to be a reformed anonymous commenter)

Forecheck said...

In the spirit of "Mutton Bustin'" we can have "Zamboni Bustin'".

Put a five year old kid on top of a Zam and see how lnog it takes him/her to fall off.

Of course I'm kidding!

Anonymous said...

forecheck - i'm pretty sure T3I can remove the "post anonymously" option in their wordpress [or whatever they use] settings. if it really bothers you that much take it up with them.