Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For those of you unable to travel up to Winnipeg for this weekend's games, you will, like last year, be able to watch them on AHL Live. And I believe, if the team's website is to be believed, that you will be able to hear the games on 1070.
1) Andy Hilbert (pictured right) signed the two-way deal -- after not making the cut for the Wild as a tryout -- and was immediately send to Houston.
2) Nathan Smith was assigned to the team from Minnesota.
Hilbert has not played a full year in the AHL since the lockout, but he was great that year with the Providence Bruins. He scored 37 goals and added 42 assists and then another 21 points (6g, 14A) in the postseason.
Here is the info on Hilbert from the Minnesota Wild press release:
"Hilbert, 28 (2/6/81), was invited to Wild training camp on a tryout and appeared in six preseason games with Minnesota. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound forward has collected 104 points (42-62=104) in 303 NHL contests in parts of six seasons with Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders. He recorded a career-high 11 goals and added 16 assists in 67 games with the Islanders in 2008-09. Hilbert has represented the United States in three World Junior Championships (1999, 2000, 2001) and three World Championships (2002, 2004, 2006). The native of Lansing, Mich., played two seasons at the University of Michigan (1999-2001) and was named to the CCHA First All-Star Team in 2001. Hilbert was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2002 and the AHL Second All-Star Team in 2005. He was originally selected by the Boston Bruins in the second round (37th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft."
Smith's best AHL season was two years ago with the WBS Penguins. He recorded 50 points (22 goals, 28 assists) in 68 games. Gritty player, and knows the system ... but he seems to be a bit injury-prone and is definitely coming off one of those down year with the Lake Erie Monsters. He scored one goal against the Aeros last year in that 6-2 whipping (New Year's Eve) at Toyota Center. If I recall correctly, though, he got the empty netter.
That is about all they can offer at this point with the roster in such flux right now. Ferguson was invited to try out and has had a very good camp thus far.
I have added a video (at the bottom of this post) of a fight he had with Drew Fata when the two were in the Eastern conference. Both guys fought well and each landed a few decent punches. In fact, both were teammates in San Antonio last year, if I recall correctly.
Other players, and these should all be announced later today, that will be sticking around are
Gregg Johnson (he of two preseason goals).
From what I understand Ned Lukacevic (spent most of last with the Providence Bruins) was released. Jimmy Kilpatrick was let go and he will report back to the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) and d-man Brad Zanon will head back to the Florida Everblades.
Also, Craig Weller was assigned to the team after clearing waivers, but Nathan Smith is staying with Minnesota for now since Benoit Pouliot is still hurt. Andy Hilbert is still chewing on the two-way deal from the Wild, so it is not yet known if and when he will join the Aeros. If something happens today, I guess there is a chance he could suit up for their first game against the Moose this weekend.
Now back to Ferguson. After Saturday's initial preseason game, Heather blogged that Simon could be the new Mitch, and that is exactly what the Aeros are hoping to get out of him. Monday in Cedar Park he was a tad more (for lack of a better word) reserved, but he had good energy, and stayed away from the sloppy game that some of his teammates employed in the third period.
He played for the Rampage last year, so I sent over an email to our friend Tony Uminski, who covers the Rampage for the Express News. He doesn't cover every game, but his blog is featured on our site. Check it out sometime.
I asked Tony to give us the heads up on Ferguson, and this is what I got. Sounds like Fergie could be a keeper.
"he'll hit every post and the goalie will usually have the save of the season against him, but he's a bruiser and antagonist and when he drops them, he usually finishes very well. when he fights, he doesn't pussy foot around -- goes right for the jugular, no dancing. first in last out. could chip in 4-5 goals but tough as nails...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I expect to get some news about Aeros cuts today, and there could be some surprises on that list. I will not, however, speculate or predict. Way too early to start that now.
On a side note, both Jason Ryznar and John Lammers were both cut from Peoria's training camp roster and sent to ECHL Alaska recently. Davis Payne, according to the Dave Eminian story, just ran out of roster spots. He was complimentary of them both.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The teams were locked up through overtime and went to the shootout where the Aeros won in 4 rounds with goals from DiSalvatore, Madsen, and Zingoni, who had the winner. Dubie made several tough pad saves to help with the shootout win.
Much like Saturday, the cohesiveness of this team this early is astounding. Constantine says cuts are probably coming tomorrow, but they're going to be difficult as some of the tryouts are outplaying the guys with contracts. That's a good problem to have.
The Aeros outshot the Stars 11-6 in the second period and even though the teams are tied 1-1, this game belongs to Climie. He has been exceptional tonight, as the Aeros are dominating play both in offensive zone possession and scoring chances.
Dubielewicz, too, is holding his own, but he made a big mistake that led to the first goal of the game. On what appeared to be a lazy shot by Brandon Straub, Dubielewicz did not appear to squeeze the glove. The puck flipped out of his mitt and rolled behind him for a 1-0 lead.
Less than 90 seconds later, Chad Rau tied the game for the Aeros when he put a rebound by Climie with Daoust and Jamie Fraser getting the assists.
The Aeros are 0-for-4 on the power play; the Stars are 0-for-2. Rau now leads the team with four shots, while Gunderson, Zingoni, Milroy and McMillan each have three.
Will try to give some final thoughts postgame tonight.
The Aeros outshot the Stars 15-5 in the first period and carried play throughout the first 20 minutes. Neither teams scored, and former Aero Matt Climie has been very sharp so far. Duncan Milroy leads all players with three shots after 20 minutes.
Houston had two power plays with which to work and snapped off seven shots and, from what I counted, at least four good scoring chances. The Stars had one power play, and held Texas to one, maybe two shots.
Another former Aero, Max Fortunus, was the closest to scoring the first goal of the game when his shot from the top of the left circle beat Wade Dubielewicz before clanging off the right post.
More after the second period.
We are underway in Cedar Park and the Aeros are controlling play early.
Starting tonight for the Aeros:
(by the way more longhorn jerseys in the stands than Stars or Aeros. Just an observation.)
D, Clayton Stoner and Brandon Rogers
C, Chad Rau (Game winner Saturday in SO)
RW, Jon DiSalvatore
LW, Jean-Michael Daoust (formerly of the WBS Penguins)
Starting tonight for the Stars
D, Brendan Milnamow and Matt Stephenson
RW, Kevin DeVergilio (no laughing Fred)
C, Greg Rallo
LW, Michael Neal
Not dressed for the Aeros: Brad Zanon, JP Testwuide, Petr Kalus, Matthew Fornataro and Ryan Lannon.
Not dresses for the Stars: The only one you care about is Matt Beaudoin.
He played for the Aeros two playoffs ago when they met the Rockford IceHogs.
Colton spent all of last season in Minnesota.
While he won't play tonight, he should make his Aeros regular season debut Friday in Manitoba.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I haven't seen all of the photos yet, but let me tell you, based on the photos that he had of Houston's Case Keenum scoring the game winning touchdown, I think I can safely say that Mr. Fred is as good at shooting football as he is at shooting hockey. And we all know how good he is at hockey.
So thanks for letting me borrow him tonight.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Aeros opened the scoring on a goal from Noreau (okay, I'm hearing now that it was deflected by Milroy) like we've all seen a bunch of... rocket from the point. But Zingoni set up the goal with a shot down low that rebounded out. Goalie didn't even know what hit him (or actually didn't hit him) on that one.
A few fights but none that warranted more than a roughing call (though they still got fighting majors... they should come up with a Violent Hugging penalty and there would have been several of those tonight).
San Antonio evened the score up in the second with a goal by Colin Long, but the Aeros answered quickly with a goal from tryout Gregg Johnson.
I failed to tweet it, but San Antonio again tied it up in the second when Jay Henderson roofed a shot over Wade Dubielewicz, who came in for Khudobin about midway through the second.
Third period looked better, but Constantine said he preferred the first two periods. The Aeros had some strong offensive chances late in the third, but couldn't finish and the game went into overtime and then to the shootout.
Few of the shots were terribly challenging in the shootout, but both goalies were perfect until the Aeros Chad Rau put one on San Antonio goalie Timo Pielmeier (say it 10 times fast) that he had but then let slip over his pad into the goal. Oops.
A few impressions of the new guys:
Ferguson IS the new Mitch Love. He was in the middle of everything. He had this one keep at the blue line where he did a full 360 degree spin horizonally in the air as he flung the puck back into the Aeros offensive zone. I'm pretty sure he's a NINJA, and I don't just throw that term around.
Kalus still has tons of speed and had a few breakaways, but just can't get to the net with it.
Lannon is a tough SOB (he was wearing the captain's C, BTW)... in fact, I saw very few instances where guys didn't finish their checks with gusto.
I don't know how much this team is going to score but they do seem to play a tough game.
We'll see what they look like on Monday against what is expected to be a pretty darn good Texas Stars team. Andrew and I will be there to give you the Tweets and gory details.
(BTW, I saw lots of cameras out... if anybody got a shot they particularly love, email 'em to me and we'll do a picture thread.)
Marco Scandella, who was in Houston for last year's Calder Cup playoffs, was assigned to a junior team.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
With the NHL season only weeks from starting, the Coyotes today officially found themselves without a coach today as Wayne Gretzky officially did resigned. Gretzky had yet to make any appearances at Coyotes camp, and there had been speculation as to who was really running the franchise. Well now it's official. Tippett is running a team while a bankruptcy judge attempts to determine who is going to own the team and where the team will be located.
LW Maxime Boisclair
RW Josef Fojtik
RW Justin Kinnunen
LW Maxime Lincourt
RW Derek Merlini
D John Wessbecker
The really interesting cuts are going to be next week, and it's going to involve the goalie situation. In Barry Brust, Wade Dublelewicz, and Anton Khudobin, the Aeros have three goalies capable of playing a good game at the AHL level as well as being capable of playing some time in the NHL should it be required. In the past, Khudobin would be the easy cut, but I was asking around yesterday, and it seemed evident that the team likes Khudobin, especially after his playoff performance. Ultimately, I think that it will be Khudobin who gets sent down, but it won't be an easy decision for Kevin Constantine and Troy Ward.
We can probably also expect, because of injuries up in Minnesota, for the Aeros to be keeping a few of the extra forwards around for a bit until the likes of Irmen and Kassian are returned to Houston, and until that time comes when the Wild figures out what it's going to do with Gillies and Pouliot.
In turn, we appreciate you guys, and we've been honored by the readership numbers that we get. Andrew had the idea to consolidate all of our coverage at one location to make it easier for all of you to find it, but I don't think any of us expected that T3I would take off like it has. So I just wanted to thank everybody for reading, and hopefully we can keep up this level of coverage.
Also, for those of you who have seen the hard copy of this week's Houston Press which is the so-called Best of Houston issue, I just want it known that I had nothing, repeat NOTHING to do with it. I had nothing to do with the naming of Best Aero. If I had written it, I would have chosen Krys Kolanos. But I guess the viewpoint of the guy who actually covers the team and sees every game doesn't really matter anything when it comes to Best ofs.
That said, please go over and read the Zingoni post. It lets the mothership know you guys appreciate the coverage which means I get to keep writing about them. And leave some comments over there if you want, as well.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I thought he filled in nicely when called upon last year, especially early with the Minnesota M*A*S*H unit was at it's best. Some things never change, eh?
As for us here at T3I, we need to remember that it's Jamie Fraser and Jaime Sifers.
Well done, T3I readers! And it was a tight one to the finish. Final was 49.2% for Locke's goal on Legace to 50.8% for Brusty's diving save.
(Addition -- Here is Andrew's Chronicle game story from that game. There was not a lot of space in the paper, though, and the whole graph about Brust's save on MacKenzie was cut. There is, however, a decent quote from Brusty himself.)
I made some suggestions to the boys as to what kind of prize the winning player in the photograph should get, but was told they were all inappropriate. I hear that a lot. Hmph.
Well, anyway, thank you a million times over to Fred for giving us all these wonderful shots to enjoy and reminisce about a special season. Thanks to Brusty for busting out the rock star shit on that save. That's just sick.
And thanks to Andrew for organizing the brackets in a way that I am just too much of a girl to do.
And, of course, thanks to you all for voting and being such solid fans. Here's to another season of killer saves, goals, fights, celebrations, swoops, hits and more!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Also mentions Simon Ferguson might be there, but he has been spotted in Sugar Land with the Aeros.
Ferguson has a bit of a scoring touch for a guy that has decent PIM numbers.
He played with the San Antonio Rampage last year for Greg Ireland.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Don't read a ton into this, because the Wild is being conservative with injured players and wanting a scarce few of the regular NHLers expending energy on road trips. So the farm hands play the road games for now.
But I'd get used to this. The Wild organization is taking an unprecedented look at what they've got in the cupboard and have signed guys they won't be afraid to use when there are injuries with the big club.
In past years, Jacques Lemaire wanted his regulars playing together most of the pre-season to help develop chemistry, so the youngsters never had much of a chance to prove themselves trustworthy. That all seems to be changing.
The team will continue to practice through Friday from 9:30-12:30 daily and practices are open to the public. If you have the time, it's pretty interesting to watch the guys run drills and just do their thing outside of a game situation. Plus... it's hockey!
We haven't gotten a camp roster from the team yet (hint hint) but I just got this hit that a couple of Laredo Bucks are in town for camp. Maxime Lincourt and Josef Fojtik. Seeing as how I finally had to learn to spell "Dubielewicz" today, Fojtik there just kinda blew my mind. It's not hard to do.
Anyway, here's the press release about those guys.
UPDATED: And here's the press release about the three Texas Brahmas who are attending camp: D Justin Kinnunen, D Derek Merlini, and G Brett Jaeger (who I discuss a bit more below).
Also, adding to this are a couple of guys Andrew mentioned a while back. D Ryan Gunderson, who had off the chain assist numbers last season in the ECHL (5 G, 53 A) has signed an AHL/ECHL contract with the Aeros.
And in on a tryout is F Matt Fornataro, who had 25 points with Worcester last season.
2nd UPDATE: And since one Maxime just isn't enough, the Aeros have also brought in F Maxime Boisclair from the Corpus Christi IceRays for a tryout.
Also in camp are suspects either you're already familiar with or we've listed on the roster:
G Barry Brust, LW Brandon Buck, LW Jon DiSalvatore, D Jamie Fraser, C Brian Kaufman, C Morten Madsen, RW Carson McMillan, D Maxim Noreau, D J.P. Testwuide, C Peter Zingoni, D Ryan Lannon, D Brandon Rogers and D Clayton Stoner.
As mentioned above, joining Brusty at the other end of the ice is Brett Jaeger, whose Brahmas won the CHL championship last season. He's got great numbers through most of his career and signed for another year with Texas this summer, so hopefully having him on the radar will prevent the goalie carousel the team went round and round on late last season should they need to call someone up.
Others remain with the Wild. Khudobin has played 60 good minutes of pre-season action for the Wild, and Kassian, Irmen, Falk, and other Aeros have been getting quality minutes of their own with the big boys. All have been playing quite well from what I understand, but they will start to trickle down to Houston over the next couple of weeks until the Wild have to make some hard decisions, particularly on defense.
Also, someone asked me about the waiver situation when guys are reassigned from Minnesota to Houston. Aren't the Wild at risk for losing those guys? Well, not really, as Russo explains very nicely here. Knowledge is power.
All photos by Fred Trask
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Of course, this is just a Facebook announcement, and we all know that everything you read on Facebook is absolutely 100% the truth. But if I get anything official, I'll link to it.
G Barry Brust
LW Brandon Buck
LW Jon DiSalvatore
RW Carson McMillan
C Brian Kaufman
C Morten Madsen (pictured, right)
C Peter Zingoni
D Jamie Fraser
D Maxim Noreau
D J.P. Testwuide
No surprises here.
The Aeros training camp opens this weekend (Sunday) and they take the ice in SugarLand Monday.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Starting goalie will be Khudobin, and then DiSalvatore, Irmen, Kalus, Kassian, Milroy, and Smith will play forward with Falk, Fraser, and Noreau on the blue line. The rest are guys who are more likely to be in Minnesota but you can see the full roster here.
You can listen to a PONDcast with my hero Kevin Falness where he has a little chat with Kassian and Noreau and Wild coach Todd Richards right here.
Also, you can listen to the game on WCCO 830 here starting at 7 p.m.
Exciting opportunity for these guys, even though they're likely to get crushed like bugs. Great experience and a guy like Kassian might even get his first NHL fight under his belt, so that's pretty darn cool.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Mike Heika covers Stars hockey for the AM news up there and was very impressed with Beauds.
Matt Climie got a very good mention too for his big saves in the game.
I just realized that Clime and Krahn will likely be in Austin. If their "D" holds up down there, they will be a very good team. I predict they will be one of the four teams to make the playoffs (Chicago, Milwaukee, Houston and Texas are my early picks). No, not in that order.
Here is a little bit from Heika's blog:
"The other player of note on Monday was Mathieu Beaudoin, who scored two goals. Beaudoin is 25 and is coming off a year in which he played for new Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan in Las Vegas (ECHL) and also for the Houston Aeros (11-8_19 in 41 games). He powered two shots in and looked good doing it. He just signed with the Texas Stars, so he could become a player that the Stars might see this year. He's a right-handed shot, so that doesn't hurt his chances.
"Matt Climie had probably the most noticeable saves in net, as he stopped Jamie Benn and Ray Sawada on a couple of good chances. All in all, most of the goalies have looked good in the two scrimmages."
It's OK to lament of him not returning here, but the Wild have answered why to that question and he just did not fit in the plans for the organization. Fletcher wants guys that are comfortable to him in his first couple of years, and until the guys scores 20 goals in the NHL, there is no need to call this a mistake.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Johnny can't take Foyzie anywhere nice
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The bottom line, Rahn says, is that the Aeros should be good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the west, but they will be too weak to compete for a championship. (Did Fred ghost-write for this guy?)
"While the defense has upgraded and the offense has suffered a blow, the Aeros are in a peculiar spot this season. If the defense can offset the struggles of the offense, the Aeros should be in good shape to make the playoffs."
On paper, the Aeros might average a full goal less per game, but they will likely give up close to a goal less per game if their new defense is as good as advertised. But there are still plenty of questions in this division.
Chicago got better offensively, but their defense will be suspect. Will Drew MacIntyre be enough? Milwaukee is always good. They probably are not as good as last year, but there is no reason to think they will slip out of a playoff spot. Texas looks to have a pretty decent roster, especially on the defensive side. I still Peoria might have fallen down the most, but they too have decent goaltending. San Antonio appears to be better, but I don't know if their offense is any better from a year ago. What is for certain is that Greg Ireland brought that team back from the dead after a 17 game losing streak. And Rockford. They are waning as we speak, talent wise, but NHL Chicago is full of talent.
I just don't see a runaway favorite to take the division at this point, but if I had to guess right now, I would put Milwaukee, Chicago, Texas and Houston as the most likely to make the playoffs. But Peoria, San Antonio and Rockford (just like the Stars and Aeros) could finish anywhere from 2nd to 7th.)
It's going to be a fun year, and there very well could be a team that finishes below .500 and makes the playoffs.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
In the first of a home and home series, Taffe drilled Aeros goalie Josh Harding and knocked him out of action until later in the year.
I remember asking Harding a few weeks after it happened if he was going to have a hard time playing the Grizzlies with Taffe on the ice, and to my surprise he actually kind of said yes.
I know Taffe got a lot of crap on the then-popular Instigator Alley message board for "running" the Aeros young and up and coming goalie at the time. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't … but one thing is for sure: Taffe is a good AHL player.
He's tortured the Aeros as a member of the Grizzles, the Rampage, the WBS Penguins and the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Earlier this summer, Taffe signed a two year, two-way deal worth $1 million ($500,000 per year) with the Florida Panthers. I think that means that his AHL days will be spent in Rochester.
But he was almost a member of the Wild organization. During a sit down chat I had with Jim Mill earlier this summer, I was told that Taffe was one of the guys he wanted to help build depth. Taffe played for Fletch and he would be good in this system. But he did not sign with the Wild because they were not willing to convert the contract to a one-day deal in Year 2. I think the Wild are smart for not signing him for that reason, but he would have been great for the Aeros power play.
Other pre camp notables –
The Aeros are inviting Jimmy Kilpatrick back to camp. He is the infamous "ghost Aero" from last year. He got called up on a road trip, got hurt and then was on the roster for about three more weeks without every playing a game at Toyota Center. I think this story is still amusing to Royal John to this day … Other players he said would be invited to camp are Ryan Gunderson, Matt Fornataro and goaltender Brett Jaeger … Kilpatrick Gunderson and Jaeger all put up very decent numbers in AA hockey (ECHL/CHL last year). Fornataro, however, put up very good numbers (10 goals, 15 assists in 51 games) with the Worcester Sharks. I would expect him to make the team or be among the very first to be called up when the Aeros need bodies.
just without going to the box
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
So, on the plus side, those who love him will see him FREQUENTLY.
On the minus side, he'll be the enemy.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
AHL experience main focus for Falcons training
Perhaps he'll play for Rob Daum once again.
courtesy of John Scott
Friday, September 4, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Just a few thoughts, which I couldn't get in because of space purposes. Mill and Chuck Fletcher are trying to assemble a team of high character guys. He mentioned that word a lot. They also want guys who can come up from Houston right away and play in the Wild system. So they're getting players that he, Fletcher, and coach Todd Richards are familiar with, thus the heavy emphasis on guys who played over in the Easteren Conference.
He is really high on Jon DiSalvatore, Pete Zingoni, and Duncan Milroy on the offensive end. He thinks they will work great in the style of play the Wild want. And he thinks Nathan Smith is going to be a great veteran presence who will teach the youngsters to play the right way.
They want very much Kevin Constantine playing a different style of hockey. Under the old regime, Constantine's marching orders were to make the team competitive, and teach the kids the fundamentals. The thinking was the other stuff, like the offense, could be taught in Minnesota. The current regime doesn't want to have to bring a guy up to speed on the style of play when he gets to the NHL. They want him to be able to jump into the lineup and skate with the regulars from day one. But they want the team to be competitive. So they've gotten guys who are used to playing an attacking style of play.
And no Matt Beaudoin.
He was to start the year with ECHL Florida a year ago and ended up playing most of the season in Rawchesta with the Amerks.
Best of luck to the kid.
and Happy Birthday sung by the whole arena