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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Aeros fall to 0-3 on their 10-game homestand, lose 3-2 to Griffins

Aeros head coach John Torchetti took the blame for Friday's 3-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins after explaining to the media that he thought the team has become lax and lazy for the last six periods.

"That's not us," he said.

He said he did not call for the right personnel is that situation, calling out the line of Dowell, McIntyre and Bulmer, which gave up the game-winning goal with just over two minute left in the game. Normally, that might be the kind of line you want in that situation, but two of the guys just returned recently from long-term injuries, and the other, Dowell, was just sent down from the Wild. And he did not suit up while on recall to the big club.

And that wasn't even the worse line of the night. Although they improved markedly as the game progressed, the Larsson/DaSilva/Phillips line had a rough go of it in the first period, and even though he gave up two goals, ECHL netminder Cody Reichard fared pretty well in 60 minutes against one of the top teams in the AHL.

He gave up some juicy rebounds, including the shot on the game-winner, but the Aeros were severely outplayed in the first 40 minutes and were on the penalty kill, perpetually, for the first 10 minutes of the middle frame.

After the Griffins went ahead, Jason Zucker had a great chance to send the game to OT, but he missed a wide-open net with a backhander. Tough, tough, break for the Aeros, who are off until Tuesday when they host the Griffins again at Toyota Center.

Houston Aeros photo /  by Morris Molina
Zucker missed most of the second period after getting hit in the left hand with a point shot from the Griffins. It sure was nice to see him back on the ice for the third. He created all night, as did Justin Fontaine, who made the play of the game on the saucer pass through the defense for the tying goal.

The Aeros took the lead on another pretty play by Zucker and Nick Petersen, but the Griffins tied it up seemingly seconds later on former Aero Jeff Hoggan's second goal of the game. That is whey I told Aeros PR guy Josh Fisher that this was starting to look just like the Tuesday game against the Stars.

He laughed and said, "This will probably end up 3-2..." Nice call, Josh.

Up in Dallas, the Wild played another poor defensive game and gave up five goals to the Dallas Stars in a 5-3 loss. Matt Hackett had no chance on four of them and will remain with the big club, while Darcy Kuemper will come back to the Aeros. Also, it is expected that the Wild may recall a forward today to take Kuemper's spot on the roster. We'll see who goes. Maybe Zucker?

Josh Harding is skating again, and appears to be on his way back to the lineup ... but, I really have no idea if he is going to be in game shape again this season. No stories about his progress mention what the Wild's plans for him are. Basically, what do you do with a goalie who just found the right combination of meds to stabilize his M.S. Do you just say, "OK, he looks good ... we'll start him against the Blues tonight." Or do you send him down for a few starts? I am just a fan, but my vote would be to let him to continue to practice. And there no way I let him play a game in the NHL until he proves he can handle live game action.

Until the Wild feel he is ready, Hackett or Kuemper will continue to backup Backstrom.

In AHL affiliation news, the dominoes are starting to fall. The Rivermen are pulling out of Peoria, as their owner, the Blues owner, has informed their building that they are leaving. Read here for more info, but basically, the thought is that the Blues will team up with the Wolves and the Canucks will move their farm team to Abbotsford just as soon as the Flames figure out what to do with the Heat. Rumors continue to point to Utica, New York, which just makes no sense to me, but what do I know?

There is still no news on what the Wild's plans are for the Aeros. Basically it just comes down to how much the Toyota Center people want to have hockey here.

I love hockey and the Aeros, so I hope they are able to work something out. In the last two weeks, I have made drives to San Antonio and Dallas to watch hockey. I hope I don't have to get used to that.


Forecheck said...

Come to think of it, I;m not sure Utica has an acceptable arena. AHL last played there 20-something years ago.

Also kind of viiolates the "re-center to the west" philosophy the NHL wants the AHL to adopt.

view from afar said...

Torchetti shouldn't take the blame for that loss but since he is a company guy, it makes sense he would. I put that loss squarely on the Wild organization. Having an ECHL goalie play in an important game with playoff points still needed was selfish on their part.

Playoffs = added development time for the young "golden kids". If the Aeros were to miss the playoffs by a point or 2, then this game can be considered the one that "cost them".

But at least the team gets back the goalie - Kuemper - that appears to have the better attitude about playing in the AHL.

Mark B said...

Frankly, and I NEVER say this....I thought the penalty calls were lopsided to an extreme in the second period. Certainly did not help.

OldFan said...

I agree with Mark...not that bad calls can ever be an excuse. But I was astounded at the calls that were not made against GR. Blatant ones, right in front of the ref.

Forecheck said...

As I said in a post that wase either deleted or ignored, Darcy Burchell was simply unbelievable. In the second, he was calling every nit-pick penalty, then he pulled a Koharski and called virtually nothing the rest of the game.

Hopefully, we get someone else Tuesday.

I had heard rumors (on the Internet, so that shows you how valid they are) that the Heat might be moving here if the TC became available. I really doubt it though.

The sale of the Rivermen does come as a surprise out of the blue and seems to bemotivated by the Blues' new owner not wanting the headaches of AHL ownership. It just goes to show that there is much more going on behind the scenes than we will ever know. Or would care to know.

Long-term (3-5 years out), I feel good about Houston having pro hockey of some sort. If not affiliated with the Wild, then with the Coyotes or a California team. The attendance in Houston is too good - 6th in the AHL and 9th in minor pro overall. A cheaper venue would definitely help, though.

Forecheck said...

After some research last night, it looks like the Utica thing is more an attempt by Utica to entice the Heat there rather than a desire by the Heat to move from the start. Yes, the Utica arena is in bad shape, but there is a group trying to get finds together for a refurb, at least of the lower bowl.