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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A huge week starts now

Lost in yesterday's free for all rumor mill were the actual Houston Aeros. The players that take the ice, entertain us and provide services for the Minnesota Wild when they need players.

Tonight, those guys will start the last three regular season home games, and they'll host the red-hot OKC Barons at Toyota Center. After tonight, the Aeros will welcome the San Antonio Rampage Thursday and Saturday. Then, the team will take a week off before closing out the regular season with three road games in three nights in three different cities.

Aeros host the Barons tonight at Toyota Center (7:05)
But first things first - tonight they host a red-hot Barons team that some how did not die with their Big 4 went to the NHL after the lockout ended. Everybody, including me, left them for dead, and now they are just two points behind the Aeros with a game in hand.

Huge game for both teams. If the Aeros win, they'll have a four-point cushion. Lose, and the Barons will have the tie-breaker both in terms of winning percentage and ROW (regulation and overtime wins). The Aeros' magic number to clinch a playoff berth for the 16th time in 19 seasons is 10. That number goes down by two every time the Aeros win. It also goes down by two every time the team currently in ninth loses.

Based on that, Aeros fans are really pulling for the Peoria Rivermen tonight, who host the Rockford Icehogs at Carver Arena.

Tonight is a playoff game, and both teams will go hard for 60 minutes and hope for the two-point reward. These last three regular season games will be fun to watch; this is the time of year where the intensity is up and the proverbial emotions run high.

John Torchetti will have the boys ready for tonight. How will they execute under pressure?

Here is some more news on the Barons via the Houston Aeros press office:

The Oklahoma City Barons –

When the NHL lockout ended, Oklahoma City lost six of the team’s top sevens scorers to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. In all Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall, Teemu Hartikainen, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Magnus Paajarvi are all gone. The team is 17-12-3-2 since their departure. Despite not playing for the Barons since Jan. 5, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz remain among the AHL leaders in points. Eberle had 51, while Schultz, a defenseman, collected 48. Eberle led the league with 25 goals until Providence’s Jamie Tardif surpassed him in late February. Schultz had 30 AHL assists, which remains among the highest in the league.

Mark Arcobello is the team’s active leading scorer with 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points in 67 games played. He is followed by rookie Toni Rajala, who has 13 goals and 23 assists for 36 points in 39 games played. He has five assists and eight points in his last seven games played. Left wing Teemu Hartikainen is third on the team in scoring, scoring 14 goals and toaling 35 points in 44 games played. Forward Philippe Cornet has four points in in his last seven games. Cornet is fourth overall in team scoring with 13 goals and 14 assists for 27 points in 39 games played. Since joining the team in late January, Jonathan Cheecoo has 26 points in 29 games with the Barons this season. The veteran winger has three points in his last seven games played. Defenseman Martin Marincin is sixth on the team with 25 points in 64 games played. Center Josh Green has 23 points in 47 games played this season.

Oklahoma City features goalies Yann Danis and Niko Hovinen in net.  Danis is 22-14-5 with a 2.79 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Fellow goalie Niko Hovinen is 4-3-2 with a 3.26 g.a.a. and a .884 save percentage. At 6-foot-7, he is one of the tallest goalies in pro hockey.

The Barons rank first in the AHL on the power play converting 61 out of 286 chances (21.3 %). As far the penalty kill goes, Oklahoma City sits 30 out of 30 teams, stopping 219 of 283 attempts (78.1 %). The Barons rank 20th out of 30 teams in penalty minutes, averaging just 14.9 minutes a game. Oklahoma City is averaging 3.16 goals per game, while allowing 3.17 goals per game.

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