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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

12/30: Aeros 1, Chicago 5

There's really not much good to take out of this game. Defense was bad. Khudobin struggled in goal. And they couldn't score.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay's funny post-game assessment of his terrible expansion team comes to mind: "We didn't tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking."

We didn't defend well but made up for it by not scoring. Here's Andrew's write-up for the Chronicle.

Update: Lookie! Highlights! Thanks Wolfkeeper! Watch the wheels come off, one by one until the spare tire falls off, too.



However, there is a silver lining and that is pretty pretty pictures of the boys in their yummy darks thanks to Chris Jerina. In still photos, you can't tell how bad they suck, so enjoy!

Here's some of my favorites, but you can see the full set here.

Irms got in a fight. He looks like he might be winning here,
but I don't think he did from what I heard.

I believe this is Gunderson making a save, rather than Khudobin,
if I'm guessing correctly, based on my conversation with Jerina last night.

"Check please!"

Rogers getting the puck out of the corner to someplace useful, hopefully.

Almond giving flying lessons.

All Photos by Chris Jerina

I'm stealing the awesome Brusty shots from warm-ups and running away with them to my blog (aka sparing you my usual slobbering). Or you can just go to the full set to view them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dubielewicz, Team Canada ousted from Spengler Cup

After opening the tourney with two wins, Team Canada was knocked out of the Spengler Cup Wednesday by Dynamo Minsk, a team from Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). It is the first time since 2004 the Maple Leafs will not be playing in the final.

With the Canadian team out of the competition, goalie Wade Dubielewicz will soon return to the team, paving the way for Barry Brust's return to the ECHL. Dubielewicz got the decision in each of the four games.

He relieved David LeNeveu (former Rampage goalie) in the first game and won in a shootout. He was excellent in the second game, but was pulled in the third match, their worst of the tournament. Wednesday, Dubielewicz allowed four goals, and local media reports fault the players in front of him.

Other former Aeros on Team Canada (coached by Craig McTavish) include:

Defensemen Travis Roche and Curtis Murphy
Forwards Jean-Guy Trudel and Brett McLean

Three of the players (Roche, Murphy and Trudel) were key components 2003 Calder Cup team, and McLean was part of the Aeros first AHL team that was ousted in the West Finals in 2002 by the Chicago Wolves.

Two other former Aeros also competed in the tournament. Petr Taticek is on the Davos Swiss Club and defenseman Sven Butenschon man the blueline for Adler-Manheim (Germany).

Here is a link to the tournament's home page.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So much for the suspense

Why wait until we get the release from the league tomorrow?
Russo says Khudobin is an All-Star, so by all means, let the party start now.
The Aeros will have two players in the game, and that is good news for the up and down Aeros.

Earlier today, Max Noreau was announced as a player on the Canadian side and Khudobin will play for the Planet USA team.

Congrats to both players, who are both very much deserving of the honor.

Even though Anton is winless in December, his numbers are still very good. This just goes to show you how well he played in November.

Congrats, again, to both players.

It was a goal after all ... and Monday night replays.

My first reaction to the waived-off goal Monday against Syracuse was that is never fully crossed the line. Even when they showed two replays, I stuck by that. Because the Aeros won, the goal did not ultimately matter ... and when KC did not bring it up in the post-game interview, I just let it go. I did not have enough space to write about it anyway.

But, today, thanks to AHLlive, I got the chance to review the play, and it was indeed a goal. Sifers made a great centering pass to a wide open Robbie Earl, but Robbie blew the shot high over the cross bar.

As LaCosta turned around to look for the puck, it his his stick, bounced toward the goal and rolled along the line where it hit the near post. It still had never crossed the goal line, but as it trickled toward the back of the net, it did eventually (for a split second) go all the way over before David Liffiton swooped it away.

Let me apologize for the poor quality of the attached image, but this was the best I could do.
Full zoom on the computer screen coupled with a camera phone. Ouch. But at least it does show white, which is generally the tell-tale sign that it was in.

My opinion, based on where Banfield was, the play just happened to quickly for him to see the puck go all the way over. And as for the goal judge, I kept wondering how he missed it. After watching it a few times, it became easy to see that Liffiton's stick blade was between him and the goal, so there is a good chance that he did not see the puck fully cross the line.

I have never sat where the goal judge sits, so I don't know if he was high enough to see "over" the stick blade. So I can't hose the guy too much for missing that call. I do know the goal judge on that end (not completely sure if it is always the same person) has seen goals that the ref missed and I know the judge there has missed goals (at least one this year) that he should have seen. As they say, it all evens out.

Another issue that bugged me last night was the fact that replays of the Aeros first two goals were not shown on the Jumbotron last night. At first I was thinking that we reverted to the first six seasons at Toyota Center, where replayed were not in the budget for games not being played on Friday or Saturday.

But, as it turned out, poor camera work turned out to be the reason why there were no replays.
You know how Forecheck is always talking about how they need a zoom lens in Cedar Park? Well, the guy working the lens last night was "zoom happy" so to speak and got these spectacular shots of the first assists.

So, have no fear ... so long as the Aeros don't score any pretty goals against Abbotsford next Sunday, fans will be able to see a full instant replay.

(If you want to see the goals, go to AHLlive.com and click on highlights. Amazingly, they are already there from the game Monday, and there must have been a secondary angle they used to get the highlight.)

Have a good Tuesday.

On Troy Ward And Some Miscellaneous Things

For those of you who are interested -- and who claim we ignore most of the team (I disagree with Andrew on that point) -- I've got a post on Troy Ward up over at the mothership right now. So I strongly encourage you to go read it -- especially since the better the click to read numbers over there, the better the chances of continuing Aeros coverage over there (you should note that the Press is currently devoting way more coverage to the Cougars and Aeros than they are the Texans and the Rockets).

I just want to add a few comments. Troy and Kevin are very aware of all of the things you -- and we here at T3I -- bitch about all of the time. Troy takes the hit for the power play numbers, though the comparison to the 2007-08 Aeros is very valid in that that club had to be one of the worst power play clubs I've ever seen -- Andrew and I would often joke that year that the Aeros should just decline the penalty and send a man of their own off of the ice since the penalty kill was so much better. But Troy's also right in that you can't expect a power play like last year's in that there were some players who could take nights off and still score a goal by the flick of a wrist.

Some other things Troy said reminded me of that 2007-08 club. I remember Erik Reitz telling us early in the season that there were some guys who just couldn't make themselves climb aboard and play Kevin's system -- for some, there was a difficulty with grasping it, for others there was a "I don't like my role" in the system thing. Troy said that there are still some guys who are too willing to go outside of the system and do their own thing.

I also think that injuries -- in Houston and Minnesota have hurt the club. There are some guys, like Peter Zingoni, who got off to a really good start, but have been hurt for most of the season. Other's like Andy Hilbert and Cody Almond have missed time due to injuries.

If you noticed, Brandon Rogers played defense last night. That's not because of inadequacies on the part of Rogers, but it was because for the first time since the start of the season, the Aeros actually had a full squad of healthy forwards available to play. And I like to think that the return of Zingoni might help things further. And here's my thinking.

The line of Hilbert/Jean-Michel Daoust/Chad Rau has been on the ball the past ten games or so. I didn't realize, until I looked at the stats last night, that this line has quietly been on fire. They've had some problems defensively, which both Constantine and Hilbert mentioned last night, but if there's been any line forcing action on the offensive end recently, they've been it. And Constantine went out of his way to mention Hilbert's leadership abilities last night, and how he was trying to set the example on the ice for other players to follow -- I say this because my question had just been to Hilbert's efforts in scoring last night, Kevin took it from there and ran with it.

I would also note that one of the best lines at the start of the season was Zingoni/Almond/Carson McMillan. Almond broke his wrist early, and I think he's just now coming back to full strength. I think if Zingoni can come back, these guys can get reteamed, and they can take off again. That would give the team two decent lines. I could see a teaming of DiSalvatore/Milroy/Smith and Irmen/Kassian/Earl/Gillies.

Then again, there's no real telling as to when DiSalvatore, Earl, Smith, etc. will be recalled to Minnesota.

*****************
One further thing, for those who want to know why last night's non-goal wasn't mentioned, that's easy, I didn't feel like it. There's no replay review in the AHL, so the Toyota Center video's crew constant replaying of an inconclusive replay was useless and childish. And as Forecheck said in the comments, it appeared that the goal judge might have had his line of vision screened and couldn't see it. Unlike Max Noreau's non-goal in game seven against Peoria last season, the Aeros didn't really seem bothered by it after the game, so I saw no need to pursue it.

*****************
Congratulations to Max Noreau for making the Canadian squad for the AHL All-Star Game.

Noreau elected to All-Star Team

Defenseman Max Noreau, who leads all AHL blueliners with nine goals, was selected to the Canadian All-Star team.

Here is the link to the press release:

As far as the Planet USA roster is concerned, that will be released later.
Until recently, I thought Khudobin might be a shoe-in.
Now I am not so sure.
He has not won a game in more than a month.

12/28 -- Aeros vs. Crunch -- The Get Back Edition

Before I go further, I want to apologize to all of you for being so late with posting this. I’ve had a rather awful day -- I hate temp jobs, especially when they end weeks before they’re supposed to end -- and I got home to discover some new problems with my COBRA, so I’ve been dealing with those issues.

Now that out of the way…

The Houston Aeros won a game tonight that they normally shouldn’t have won. They got the 5-4 OT win while getting help from some unlikely sources -- Ryan Lannon and J.P. Testwuide -- and some expected sources who appear to be beginning to heat up a bit. They had what appeared to be some bad goalie play, until you stop and think about what Barry Brust was dealing with all night. They scored a goal on the power play, but gave up three goals on the penalty kill.

Yeah, this isn’t the type of game that this season’s Houston Aeros normally win. But win they did. And in doing so, they won not only the most exciting game of this season, but also the final home game of this calendar year.

It was a game in which the Syracuse Crunch got the first goal -- a power play goal midway through the first period that Barry Brust didn’t appear to have a chance at stopping. The Aeros tied the game at 15:27 when Ryan Lannon got his first goal since the 2007-08 season when he was with the Wilkes-Barre/Scanton Penguins (paper demands fulfilled by Dunder-Mifflin). Lannon’s high shot from the circle just cleared the top pipe and bounced back out onto the ice almost immediately. But it was a goal nevertheless.

Syracuse took the 2-1 lead in the first, but Andy Hilbert, who had been close to scoring the entire night, got a beauty of a pass from Chad Rau and slipped the puck into the net to tie the score at 2-2 (it’s a shame they didn’t show the replay of this goal inside Toyota Center because it really appeared to be pretty damn nice. The Aeros then took the lead at 15:15 when Jon DiSalvatore got the power play goal when he knocked in the rebound of a Hilbert shot.

Syracuse tied the game on a power play goal just 44 seconds into the third when Bates Battaglia went five hole. And two minutes later, the Crunch took the 4-3 lead when Tomas Kana fired the puck past Brust -- once again, on a power play. But the Aeros didn’t quit and Jean-Michel Daoust, after having several shots bounce off various portions of the pipe, finally knocked one into the net at 4:05.

And there it stayed until 52 seconds into the OT when J.P. Testwuide, who had earned his first professional point earlier in the night when he assisted on Daoust’s goal, got a pass from DiSalvatore and launched the puck for the goal. A goal which was also his first goal as a professional.

“It was kind of late in my shift,” Testwuide said. “I just came in off the half-wall. We had a guy drive the middle lane, I think it was Daoust, he was driving down, and I knew if I just got the puck there, I’d probably get a whack at it and he might get a whack at it. And luckily it snuck right under his arm.”

It wasn’t the kind of win that Kevin Constantine wants to see from his team every night, but it’s still a win, and neither he nor his guys are going to turn away two points.

“And I’ll give them credit,” Constantine said of his team. “We kept battling. It’s hard to win when you don’t score first. That was only our third win all year when we don’t score first. So it’s hard to win, anytime in hockey, any team you’re playing, when you don’t score first. And we managed to hang in there long enough to find a way to win the game, so that was good.”

With the win, the Aeros are now 17-14-2-1 (37 points) on the season. They’re just two points away from being part of the huge logjam for second place -- Peoria, Milwaukee, and Rockford -- are all tied with 39 points. And with two straight losses, the Stars are now only seven points up on Houston.

The Aeros will finish the calendar year out on the road. They play in Chicago on Wednesday, Rockford on Thursday, and Milwaukee on Friday -- Happy New Year! They’re back home on Sunday for their first game ever against the Abbotsford Heat.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

It would be easy to say that Barry Brust didn’t have the best of games between the pipes. After all, he surrendered four goals. But three of those goals were on the penalty kill, and at many times, he appeared to get let down by his defense. And think, if not for Brusty’s play, the score might have been much, much worse.

“If you looked at that game though, we still probably gave up nine odd-man attacks, six two-on-ones, add another five-six three-on-twos, those came in bunches,” Kevin Constantine said afterwards. “So if you looked at about a five minute segment of that game, it wasn’t good at all. But if you looked at the other fifty-five minutes, we were better than we were the other night.”

But if not for Brust, those five minutes might have destroyed the team. As it is, while he’s happy with the win, Constantine’s still not happy with his team.

“I had exhausted my intensity in the last two days,” he said. “I really was disappointed in both of our last games. We talked long and serious as a team about our last two performances prior to this. I mean, we got a win against Grand Rapids, but lucky. And didn’t play well the other night. So I think our guys were really determined to be a better team tonight.”

One line that Constantine’s happy with, though, is the line anchored by Andy Hilbert. I’ve been watching this line the past several games, and it’s often seemed to me that they’ve been just inches away from breaking out for a big game from the unit. So tonight we had Rau setting up a Hilbert goal. We had Hilbert setting up Jon DiSalvatore and Jean-Michel Daoust. And Daoust got the game-tying goal.

But leave it to Constantine to set me right by noting that this is something that’s been happening for the past ten games, at least offensively, though he hasn’t exactly been thrilled with their defensive intensity.

“I think, over the last 10 games, his line, and he, have been very good offensively,” he said. “They’ve had a little bit of a struggle, as a line, in their own end, but offensively, they’ve been very, very good. And Andy [Hilbert] was very determined tonight. He’s a really good guy, and he’s a good leader, and he really cares. I think he wanted to do something, to make a contribution, to kind of get our team playing a little better. Obviously we needed his points tonight. So he was a big part of this win.”

I talked to Hilbert after the game, and he agreed with Constantine’s conclusions.

“As a line, I think we played well,” he said. “The last couple of games we’ve had a couple of rough games for our line in particular. Tonight, I thought we played well, but I thought the whole team played well tonight.”

Constantine noted Hilbert’s leadership qualities. And how much he wanted to contribute tonight. Hilbert says that just how he plays.

“That’s how I think I like to lead, by example. I’m not a huge rah-rah guy. I think, if you go out and work hard, and other guys see that you’re out there contributing, working hard, doing the little things, it just filters on down through the entire team.”

****************
How about that game by J.P. Testwuide? The rookie got some nice playing time during the playoffs last season, but he has yet to score any professional points. Until tonight.

“It was just a good pass by [DiSalvatore],” he said of his goal “He gave it to me, kind of, at the beginning. And then he got open, and I gave it back to him. A great play. Luckily it snuck in there.”

Constantine noted that neither Testwuide or Lannon -- who had his first goal in two seasons -- are on the team to score, but he’ll gladly take their contributions on that end.

“We had two [defensemen] score their first goals,” Constantine said. “Nice to get contributions from those guys. We don’t expect them to have to worry about that, but when they can contribute like that, it’s great.”

**************
Here are some miscellaneous stats. Tonight was the first time 12/26/08, in a 5-3 loss in San Antonio, that the Aeros have allowed three power play goals in one game. It was also, according to Constantine, only the third game this season that the Aeros have won after giving up the first goal.

With his goal, DiSalvatore joined Daoust as the team’s only 10-goal scorers this season. Didn’t Kolanos have 10 goals after five games last year? Hilbert now has 12 points for his last 10 games (3-9=12). Daoust has nine points for his last 10 games (6-3=9). Chad Rau has eight points for his last 10 (3-5=8). Max Noreau has nine points for his last 19 (5-4=10). Jon DiSalvatore has eight points (7-1=8) for his last 10.

*******************
Now excuse me while I go off on a rant….

I would like to once again thank Jamie Spencer with the Wild for getting us the weekday game replays. But maybe he needs to have a talk with them and ask them to actually replay the Aeros goals. For some strange reason, the first two Aeros goals weren’t replayed tonight. I would have really liked to have seen Hilbert’s goal again as it looked like a great play by Hilbert and Rau in real time.

But then again, I don’t want to detract from the Kiss Cam, I guess.

******************
And The Beatles video is really easy tonight. This game was kind of like one we saw last season. Lots of scoring, some lousy defense, and lots of dramatics. So I say tonight’s game calls for “Get Back.”



Happy New Year everbody. Thanks for reading. And please, may 2010 be a better year than 2009 has been.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Right, so... about that 5-4 OT win over Syracuse

Barry either needs to be UP for good or ... well, he just needs to be up for good, because I'm working WAY too hard during these games to get my goalie a win.

Every goal that goes against the Aeros, I'm WILLING with every fiber of my being, the boys to even up the score. And while they did it every time, I'm not sure that's really a sustainable expectation. Who am I kidding? It's absolutely not a sustainable expectation with this low-scoring team. It took two rather unlikely scorers in Testwuide and Lannon to make it happen.

That love from the hockey gods that I promised? There it is. Say thank you.

And hey, betcha nobody went home complaining about a boring game, did ya? It was maybe ... too exciting? Okay, I'm just never happy, am I? :)

One thing I realized, and got Stat Boy (Andrew) to confirm, was that this was the highest number of goals allowed this season while still getting the win. Not sure the value of that stat but I so DON'T have a brain for stats, so I was happy to come up with that.

But here's one that didn't go in. End of the second, lots of pressure in the Aeros end, have that feeling in the pit of my stomach like, "Uh oh, here comes the back-breaker" and then BOOM. Brusty.

I'm not even going to tell you the noises that came out of me on that one, but well... anyway... OMG. If I could marry a save and have its babies, that's the one I'm locking up.

I know, you'd think I'd marry a poke check, but you can't take a poke check home to your parents. The unapologetic bad boy of saves, you don't really want to give the poke access to your savings account, am I right? Would totally party with the poke check though, and maybe get a little tempted by it down the road in a weak moment.

But the glove save... THAT glove save especially... you can feel good about saying 'Yes' to. It's not gonna let you down, but it's still pretty nasty, so you know you won't get bored with it either. ;)

Anyway, big roadie coming up in the mid-west. Hopefully the Aeros penalty kill is hitchhiking around Illinois somewhere and they'll pick it up and use it. That was BRUUUUTAL tonight.

We should have a fun road trip bonus of photos from our Milwaukee-area pal, Chris Jerina. Always fun to see the boys in their road darks and it's nice of Chris to cruise around and catch the games. See ya in a couple of days.

Aeros on Channel 2

The boys don't get on TV too often, so when it does happen, you have to savor it.

You also have to take it with a grain of salt. This interview included a question about why the guys room stinks so bad and a promise (by the interviewer) that Kassian was going to beat the whole of Syracuse up Monday night. Lovely.

Anyway, I apologize for the extreme low-techness of this (recording it off the tv) but that's the best I've got. Maybe the team will provide better footage, but if you're like me, you want it Right.F**king.Now.

And RFN you shall have it.

Here's the intro that showed Brusty's poke check that made me swoon Saturday night:



And here's the interview in all its glory (but here's a much better version of it on CH 2's web site):

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Reader Request: Comfortably Numb

Forecheck, you requested it, so here it is. Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb."



Good choice by the way. Some of the guys did appear to be a bit numb for the first part of the game -- if they played the first 10 minutes of the first like they played the rest of the game, then the result would have probably been a bit different.

And as Andrew and I noted below, Constantine's aware of the issue, and he's trying to figure out what to do about it.

Special Occasion

Wow, what a night! What a fun game!

What? They lost? Oh.

But... Barry played! Wasn't that awesome?

I literally had to turn the T3I twitter responsibilities over to John because my mind ceased to function once that second goal went in and I saw Brusty gathering his gear to go relieve Khudobin. F**king FINALLY!

It was 100% "get off press row before you cheer inappropriately" the rest of the game. So, even though I was tottering around on 3" stilettos with a jacked up knee, I spent the rest of the game standing (pacing) in the corner down by the net.

And boy was I treated to a show. The Aeros frankly stunk in the first and still kinda stunk defensively in the second, letting several breakaways get down into the Aeros zone. He stopped all of them, one with a big, ballsy poke check that required me to hold on to the railing. :)

And in the third, when San Antonio's Lessard jammed himself into the protective scrum of Aeros in front of Brusty after a whistle, and he took offense and jammed his blocker in Lessard's face, and Lessard took offense to that and started jawing at Brusty as he skated around the back of the net and toward the bench, and Brusty started jawing back... that was great. Man, I've missed that edge in the net.

What I wouldn't give to be a fly on the glass there, but here's my stab at how it went, in classic stick figure form:


Anyway, in spite of the fluky bounce off the boards that set up the game winner, Brusty shook that off and played superbly and kept the team in it breakaway after stupid, fumbling breakaway.

I know why they played Khudobin tonight (or tried to, anyway). He hasn't played in a long while and he's still the #1 goalie in Houston, so it was his start. But knowing how San Antonio games tend to be... crazy, nasty, chippy... I think Brusty was the right goalie to be playing that game. Unlike most goalies, he always seems to be more in his element when things get a little out of control.

-------------------------

I can't wrap up without mentioning the Miss Aeros bikini contest. I won't say that whole affair doesn't gets my feminist hackles up a little bit, but frankly, I'm sure there's plenty I do and say that real feminists would like to thump me on the head for.

So, I get it. You're hot and like attention for being hot. I write pretty well and I like attention for that, so I really do get it. Flaunt your ass-ets.

However, if I could suggest classing up the spectacle a bit by telling the girls what their question will be before they go out so they can have a good answer lined up? I mean, I know they weren't tough questions, but most of the answers were empty-headed enough to get me cringing on top of cringing.

"What do you like about hockey?"

"I personally believe, that U.S. Americans,
are unable to do so,
because uh,
some, people out there, in our nation don’t have maps."

(Don't get it? Click here)

But since they were stick figures themselves, I couldn't resist giving y'all a two-fer tonight, because surely we'd have posted some glorious pics from Fred of the lovely ladies. I even gave them boobs. You're welcome.

Anywayyyyy, I know that was a tough game to watch, but I'm going to bed happy. See you on Monday where hopefully the boys have gotten the turkey and rust/rest out of their systems.

12/26 -- Aeros v. Rampage -- The I've Just Seen A Face Edition

Kevin Constantine has told us over the past several years that one of the games he can never predict is the game after the Christmas break. It’s just one of those wild card games in which he has no idea which of the teams is going to show up, or how the game is going to go. And tonight’s game was a perfect example.

The San Antonio Rampage showed up for the entire game -- they especially showed up for the first period as they were up 2-0 just a little over six minutes into the game, and before many of the 6323 fans in attendance had even found their seats. Then Barry Brust came into the game for the ineffective Anton Khudobin and could only watch helplessly as one of those fluke shots that have haunted Wade Dubielewicz all season went into the net to make the score 3-0 at the 9:05 mark of the first period.

That third goal came about when Brust went behind the net to field the puck and send it out to one of his players. But a weird hop there, and strange bounce there, and the puck was on the stick of the Rampage’s Matt Watkins who easily found the empty net.

“It was kind of riding on the dasher,” Brust said of puck. “And it hit a partition and just popped out front. It’s tough luck. We got a couple of those last year, and didn’t have any against us until tonight.”

Luckily, the first period ended before San Antonio could do any further damage. But the damage they’d done would prove to be more than enough.

A different Aeros team came out for the second period, and it was a team that leveled some hits and found a way to get on the board, the first coming when Jon DiSalvatore took a pass from Nathan Smith then snaked his way through the Rampage defense to score a short-handed goal at 1:44. Then Max Noreau fired a shot from way up high, which with the advantage of what appeared to be a nice screen from Duncan Milroy, got past San Antonio’s Justin Pogge at 16:00 to make the score 3-2.

“We came in the room -- we scored two goals in that period which was huge for us,” Noreau said. “Jon had made a great move on that short-handed goal and that was huge for us getting that first goal, and we were only down by one. One more shot on the net, and it’s a goal and it’s a 3-3 game and we come out with the win.”

But that one more goal was not to be. Houston out-shot San Antonio in the second and third periods, and many of those shots were of a high-percentage variety, but Pogge proved to be just too good as San Antonio got the 4-2 win (the final goal came on a San Antonio empty-netter at 19:00 of the third).

The loss dropped the Aeros record to 16-14-2-1 (35 points) and a disturbing 9-9-1-0 at home. They’re now in fifth place in the West Division, two points behind Rockford, Peoria, and Milwaukee -- who are all tied for second -- but only three points up on sixth place Chicago. They’ll next play on Monday night when they host the Syracuse Crunch at 7:05.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

As Andrew mentioned below, Constantine is displeased with the effort of some of his forwards, though he didn’t name names. And it’s a trend that he’s noticed over the past several games. He specifically mentioned the Grand Rapids game.

“We finished the break with a win, but gave up a lot chances against Grand Rapids,” he said. “So it was nice to get the win. But there were little signs of stuff, and I don’t know, if we had checked out a little in the Grand Rapids game. If you remember we had a really poor start -- a bad start to the third period. I don’t know if we had checked out a little bit there, and I don’t know if we’d checked back in yet either. I know that there are circumstances around those, but the trend of the two games, is concerning.”

There are several things bothering him -- a lack of physical play, and a tendency to give up the first goal on the first shot of the game.

“You can take the obvious, which is pucks, lot of first shots or first scoring chances have gone in on us in the last five games,” he told us. “There’s a goalie readiness issue in that. Our physical play is down significantly over the last couple of games. So there is a compete factor for the forwards. There’s some guys whose game has flattened out a little bit or dipped a little bit, so there’s some individual guys whose performance is down right now. There’s a combination of a lot of stuff, and you don’t know exactly how to look at it when you have the circumstances of the break. So you have to grind our way back into the playing the we know we can play.”

I also talked to assistant coach/assistant GM Troy Ward a bit after the game for a piece I’m doing for the mothership next week. And he noted that there’s still a problem with some of the guys who are new to the team still trying to do things their own way a bit too much. He said that last year, guys like Krys Kolanos and Corey Locke had the ability -- especially on the power play -- to do things their own way and still get the points whereas some of these guys -- once again, not naming names -- just don’t have that ability. His hope, and belief, is that guys like Brandon Rogers, Max Noreau, and Danny Irmen -- guys who know Constantine’s system -- will be able to get the newcomers to trust in the Constantine system because they know it works.

****************
As you might have noticed, Barry Brust made his return to action for the Aeros, playing his first game in a Aeros sweater since last March. And except for that fluke goal in the first, he was perfect, keeping the team in the game and giving them a chance to win.

“He was great,” Constantine said. “He had the weird goal against, but -- we gave up two breakaways at the start of the second period and it’s over because then it’s four-nothing [unless Brust makes the save], so we didn’t even have a prayer unless he made five or six big saves to give us at least a chance to come back.”

And as Max Noreau stated, it was a great game for goalies: “[Justin Pogge] made some great saves out there and kept them in the game. Brusty did the same thing for us in the third period and the second when we gave up a couple of breakaways. The goalies played a huge part in the game tonight. Hopefully we’ll get better bounces next game.”

As for Brust, let’s just say that Heather wasn’t the only one happy to see him back in action. For one thing, he’s always a good guy to talk to in the locker room after the game, win or lose, but he’s also fun to watch out on the ice.

And while I’m sure Brust was happy to be back, I’m pretty sure that this is not the way he wanted to make his return. However, playing for Kevin Constantine, a goalie has to follow the Boy Scout motto and always be prepared.

“Here the coaches aren’t afraid to pull the goalie,” Brust said. “So you pretty much have to be ready, no matter what. You’re always into [the game], trying to talk on the bench and stuff like that, and try to stay into it mentally.”

As for the loss, Brust was philosophical: “We battled hard, but the hockey gods didn’t want to give us this one tonight.”

****************
From reading the comments, I can tell that some of you are a bit upset about tonight’s Bikini Contest. Especially with it coming right after Christmas. My response: GET OVER IT. First, the team generally has a great attendance on the night of this contest, so that means there are plenty of people who like it. And I wouldn’t expect them to do anything about a promotion that increases attendance. Second, this isn’t the first time they’ve had this contest on the first game back from the Christmas break. They did it at the same time last season, and they’ve had it on this same night in other seasons.

I’m generally not one to defend the team when it comes to promotions, etc., but anything that helps the attendance and doesn’t detract from the game -- like a lot of the promotions do -- isn’t a bad thing. You didn’t have to walk around a bunch of dogs, you didn’t have to miss work to attend an 11:00 game so school kids could attend, they didn’t have to stop play for many, many minutes to clear teddy bears off of the ice, and you didn’t have to deal with several annoying choirs singing the same damn song during intermissions.

*****************
Forecheck, I noted your request for Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” That’s nice, so nice, that I’m going to give that it’s own post, primarily because, several months ago, I set myself a goal of trying to find a suitable Beatles song to play after every game, without repeating a song.

That brings us to tonight’s game. So in honor of several women I know swooning over the appearance of Mr. Brust in goal, and in honor of the guys who were swooning over the young ladies in the Miss Aeros contest, here’s The Beatles with "I've Just Seen A Face.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

View from the Press Box; Aeros 2, San Antonio 4

No matter how good the Aeros looked in the second period, Saturday's game was over after 10 minutes.

A three-goal deficit for a goal-challenged team is just too much. And that is exactly what happened en route to another half-hearted effort at home.

Maybe the Aeros out to model their jerseys after the t-shirt pictured left.

Right now, there is concern over how several players on the team have let off the gas in recent games. Constantine would not out anyone to the press, but he specifically mentioned a lack of physicality and how there were signs that certain forwards are not competing.

"Our physical play is down significantly the last couple of games," said Constantine. "That is a compete factor for the forwards ... there are some guys that I think whose game is flattened out or has dipped a little bit. There are some individual guys whose games are down right now."


Again, no one naming names.

Perhaps MORE concerning is the Aeros recent problem of giving up a goal when the other team gets their first scoring chance of the game. Before the game tonight, I told Heather that she was going to see Barry play tonight if the Aeros came out flat.

The first games after the Christmas break are always tough for goalies, and I knew KC would go to Brust if Anton could not save the team's bacon early on.

The defense was bad, the goalie was bad ... everyone was bad. Consider this quote from Duncan Milroy:

"Tonight, I just think we shot ourselves in the foot. We were awful in the first period, and teams in this league will bury you if you are not prepared to play 60 minutes."

I know the team is tired of this up-down, up-down garbage at home. If the Aeros don't so something to fix that immediately, they are going to be the last place team no one wants to lose to.

Obviously the coaches are not going to out any individuals to the media. I think that is the way to go. I have my idea of who they are talking about. Who do you think needs to pick up their game?

It's Bikini Night

As if you needed more of a reason to attend tonight's game, it's the annual Bikini Contest tonight. And no, Heidi Klum won't be here, damn it, but she really knows how to wear a bikini.

AHL All Star balloting ends Sunday night

It may seem a bit futile, as the Aeros aren't exactly overflowing with flashy all-star talent, but voting for the AHL All-Stars ends Sunday night. So, if you want to get your vote in, head here and git 'er done.

I'd say Khudobin probably has a good chance at one of the 3 Planet USA goaltending spots. Would be pretty a pretty nice streak to have Aeros goalies in the ASG three years in a row.

Not sure any of the Aeros forwards really have the numbers to stand out from the pack this season, though I think Noreau would warrant a nod among the defensemen, given that he's been consistently one of the top scoring defensemen in the league (er, consistently if you don't count the first 20 games of this season).

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Little Christmas Music

It's Christmas, and I've got nothing hockey to write. I just thought I would come over and post a video of one of my all-time Christmas songs. So here's The Pretenders with "2000 Miles."

I hope that everyone has a great holiday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Missing the big tuna ...

Ever had one of those days when you just need a good laugh ... and you get one?

I just got one.
Pardon the random-ness here, but this is a clip from a feature on Jon Awe you can find here.
Decent read, but this is the best part by far:

"Formerly known as “The Big Cat”, Awe is now known in South Korea as “The Big Tuna” due to a translation error by the Korean media."

*** All I know, if someone ends up with any nickname involving tuna because of me, my ass is pummeled the next time I go in the locker room. And the boys will probably use that chewing-gum concoction thingy that scares the living daylights out of me for reasons I will NOT get in to right now.

--ajf

A Few Minutes With Brandon Rogers

I've been fascinated by the move of Brandon Rogers to the center position this season. Especially since Rogers has never played forward before in his life. So I spoke with Rogers about the move after Sunday's game, then I got some comments from Kevin Constantine.

You can find the story over at the mothership. So give it a read.

And let me just say that I think Rogers is one of the nicest guys on the team. He's not flashy. He just does his job. And maybe we need to find a reason to talk to him more often after games because he'll generally give us a good answer.

And Merry Christmas, everybody.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12/20 -- Aeros vs. Griffins -- The Magical Mystery Tour Edition

Well how about that? The Houston Aeros looked like a professional hockey team on the ice tonight -- on the offensive end -- and they showed that good things can happen when you score goals as they got the 5-3 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins this afternoon.

Grand Rapids got the scoring started when Patrick Rissmiller scored on Wade Dubielewicz at 4:40 of the first period, and it kind of looked like that this was going to be another one of those games where the Aeros get blown out before going on break. But at 14:46 of the first Max Noreau got a nice pass from Duncan Milroy, proceeded to fake a Grand Rapids defenseman of out of his gear, then snapped the shot by Daniel Larsson to tie the score.

The second period was all the Aeros as Andy Hilbert got a nice cross-ice pass from Jean-Michel Daoust and put the puck in the net to make it 2-1 at 2:56. Duncan Milroy punched in a Brandon Rogers rebound at 6:49 to make it 3-1, then Jon DiSalvatore made it 4-1 on an unassisted goal as he skated around the Grand Rapids defense and made use of a screen to get the puck past Larsson.

Grand Rapids changed goalies to start the third, and the change seemed to suit the Griffins as they got the puck past Dubielewicz twice to make the score 4-3 with nearly 15 minutes remaining in the game. But Grand Rapids would get no closer and Noreau would get the empty-netter at 19:37 to make the final 5-3.

“It’s fun. I’m not going to lie,” Dubielewicz said about playing a game with a big lead. “When we put up four, it’s not that you can relax by any means, but you can get in the game, you can get in the flow of things, and if you make a mistake it’s not going to cost you two points. That’s what it was tonight. It was nice. It was a lot of fun.”

The Aeros now head into the Christmas break with a record of 16-13-2-1 (35 points) and are percentage points ahead of Rockford for fourth place in the jam-packed West Division. The Aeros return to play on Saturday night when they host the San Antonio Rampage at 7:35.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

Andrew did the checking on this, and it’s rather amazing when you think of the team this year. But every year since Constantine’s been here, the team has headed into the Christmas break at or just above five hundred. The 2007-08 team was 15-12-1-1 (32 points) at this point. Last year’s team was 15-10-1-6 (37 points), and this year’s squad is 16-13-2-1 (35 points).

“That’ll be all right if the second half goes like the way the second half went both years,” Constantine said. “I mean, a chance to climb up in standings. At least we’ve put ourselves in a position to be competitive in the division. We’ve got to figure out a way now to have an even better second half because it’s a good division and we’ve got to climb our way into making sure we’re in the playoffs.”

As for what’s in store for the second half, Constantine would like to see the team improve it’s play at home, put some more points on the board, and go off on a long winning streak.

“So somewhere we need to put at least one stretch, this year we have to put some type of string together at some point just to kind of insure we make the playoffs.” he said.

He is pleased that the team won four of the last five games of this stretch, but he and the players are upset that they couldn’t go into the break with a five game win streak.

Brandon Rogers thinks the team is what it is, which is a team that’s going to win 90-percent of its games by a 2-1 score.

“Obviously we always want to get better offensively,” he said. “That’s one of the things we work on all of the time in practice is making sure we’re scoring goals and trying to get better offensively because our base is always going to be strong defense, and if we can get better offensively, and keep building on that all year, then we’ll be a better team over all.”

*****************
Some of the young guys like Chad Rau were looking kind of tired coming into these past several games, primarily because they’ve never played this many games before. But Constantine hasn’t had many resources at his disposable because of injuries in Houston and in Minnesota. However, he expects Petr Kalus and Colton Gillies to be able to return to play next Saturday when the team returns to action, and he expects Peter Zingoni to be able to start getting back on the ice and testing his injury when the team returns for practice, those his return to game action is further off.

Also, as Heather mentioned in a post below, Wade Dubielewicz is off to Switzerland to join Team Canada in some international hockey action. He departs on the Tuesday, and he should return to the Aeros on the January 1st. Until then, the goalies will be Anton Khudobin and Barry Brust, which should make Heather happy.

*****************
I’ve just about had it with the cheerleading from the PA, the PA speaking during game action, PA spots extending after for a long time after game action has resumed, the sound effects that pop up from nowhere during game action, and certain various people who don’t know how to turn off their microphones. There’s not much I can do about it as we reporters have a reputation about bitching about everything. But I know that there are many of you out there who are getting a bit pissed about this, as well. So, might I suggest, that, if you’re bugged, too, you go here and start firing off some emails to some of the people who might be in a position to do something about this. It’s making the team look unprofessional. But don't bother the people in Hockey Ops, Corporate Partnerships, Ticket Sales, Joe O'Donnell, or the receptionist.

*****************
And to end things tonight, I’m going to go with The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour.” Primarily because, on several of the goals, especially Noreau’s first period goal, I had flashbacks to last year’s squad which seemed to be able to score at will. So until next Saturday, may you all have a Merry Christmas and may you all enjoy a Magical Mystery Tour of your own.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fire and Goalie Update

I'm not sure how much of this got mentioned last night, but I thought it'd give a little run down of breaking news in the Wild/Aeros organization.

As most of you are aware, the Ottawa Senators visiting team equipment truck with much of the Wild player and coach equipment in it caught fire yesterday on the way to the arena from the practice facility.

Both goalies saw all their gear destroyed, as did many players. Russo has a great article on all of it here today and here's an even more thorough accounting of the losses on his blog. The dramatic photos are here on Puck Daddy. The burned goalie mask makes my stomach turn!

The game goes on tonight in Ottawa, but Anton Khudobin has been summoned in case the goalies can't get comfortable enough in whatever gear they scrape together and they need him to start. I'd agree with Russo that it's unlikely he starts but wouldn't that be something? Wow.

------------------------

And continuing on the goalie news, as you also know, Barry Brust was up earlier in the week due to Josh Harding having the flu and Khudobin recalled to the Wild.

He backed up Dubielewicz on Tuesday in Cedar Park, and was scratched when Khudobin returned at home on Wednesday. He was sent back down to Florida on Thursday to help the Blades out Friday and Saturday night, though he did not play in the 5-3 loss to Wheeling (worst team in the ECHL) Friday night. Great call, Blades! /sarcasm

Aaanyway, Brusty will fly back on Sunday as the Blades go on their Christmas break and the Aeros start theirs after Sunday's game.

In case you missed it in Andrew's Chron article last night, the team confirmed that Dubielewicz is going to Switzerland in place of injured Texas Star goalie Brent Krahn on Team Canada for the Spengler Cup through the first of the year (which is why he's been getting so many starts lately).

So, we get our dear Brusty back and in a few games hopefully while Dubie is gone.

Tomorrow's game, I would expect to see Dubie starting again as he's the only goalie who won't be traveling half the day, assuming Khudobin is sent down from Minny. But what the hell do I know. Don't answer that.

12/18 -- Aeros vs. Stars -- The I'm A Loser Edition

I’m pretty sure we all know the script by now because we’ve heard it so many damn times this season. So repeat after me in three…two…one…

The Aeros lost 5-2 to the [fill in the blank]. The game was closer than the score indicates. The Aeros out shot [fill in the blank]. The Aeros were full of effort and didn’t quit. A mistake here, a mistake there, the Aeros are defeated.

For instance, on [fill in the blank]’s second goal, Ryan Gunderson got beat badly which resulted in Wade Dubielewicz getting beat and which resulted in [fill in the blank] getting the 2-1 lead at 18:50 of the first period, not long after the Aeros had tied the game.

It’s a disturbing pattern seen throughout this season. The Aeros get back in a game. The Aeros get back out of the game.

“It always so disappointing,” Gunderson said. “Every time we tied it, we made mistakes and they capitalized.”

The key mistake this time around was Gunderson letting Texas’s Warren Peters go wide, wide, wide around and past him for an easy shot he should not have been able to have. Kevin Constantine wouldn’t put the blame on Gunderson. Gunderson was not so kind.

“I got beat wide,” he said. “That’s one of the things obviously I need to work on. It happens quite a bit. It’s discouraging.”

Yes it’s discouraging because it happens way too much. But Constantine took a different view of that play, and the responsibility for the goal.

“Before the puck got to Gunderson…” Constantine said, “before it got to the goalie, there were a lot of other issues related to that. At the end of the day, it’d be nice -- as you move from forwards to D to goaltending you’re escapability from mistakes gets less and less. Lots of mistakes leading to their forwards attacking our D. The D get to make some mistakes and goalies get to make none or the light’s on.”

And the lights were on.

The loss dropped the Aeros to 2-4 against Texas this season, and it dropped their record to 15-13-2-1 (33 points) and into fifth place. Rockford, 16-14-2-1 (35 points), Peoria, 16-10-1-2 (35 points), and Milwaukee, 15-8-1-4 (35 points) are all tied for second. Texas is in first at 20-8-2-2 (44 points). The Aeros next play on Sunday afternoon against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

Okay, stop it right now. I know that a bunch of you are probably still bitching about Max Noreau’s third period shot at 5:59 not being called a goal. There’s a reason for that. IT WASN’T A GOAL.

Things weren’t helped by the Game Ops people showing the replay time, after time, after time, after time, after time. If you watch closely, you see the puck bounce off of the post. That black thing that you think is the puck crossing the line is actually the end of Texas goalie Matt Climie’s stick. It also didn’t help that certain people with arena microphones seemed to be egging on certain situations throughout the night.

The game ops people are getting out of control. They’re playing music during game action. They’re speaking constantly -- not goal/penalty info -- but utter nonsense. The Aeros might be a minor league team, and they can do all of the minor league crap they want during timeouts and intermissions, but they should really stop doing it during the game.

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I figured out something tonight. This team bores me. I can see that they’re trying. And the defense is generally good, and there probably is more talent on this team than the one from two years ago, but this team bores me. The team two years ago needed Nolan Schaefer and Barry Brust to be perfect every night or the team was going to lose.

It’s a bit like that this season -- hell, it’s a lot like that this season. But the team two years ago wasn’t boring. Not to me. But this year’s team….I’m finding myself bored while I’m at the game. And I don’t like being bored.

*******************
Tonight’s song from The Beatles is “I’m A Loser.” That’s just not because the team lost, but because of a line in the song that goes “and I’m not what I appear to be.” This team isn’t what it appears to be. You see the goals scored and you think that the team’s just not trying. But they’re getting the shots. They’re usually in good position. But they’re always just a step slow, or a second off. They’re not the bad team they appear to be.

So until Sunday, here’s The Beatles.

Friday, December 18, 2009

12/18: Aeros 2, Texas 5

You could see this one coming a mile away. The Texas Stars are just damn good. They've slumped a little in goal with Brent Krahn's injury, but Climie is still an excellent goalie and his backup, Dallas prospect Bachman is also proving to be quite good.

The win against them on Tuesday in their barn was... maybe not a fluke... but that certainly wasn't the Texas Stars you get on most nights. And they knew it and you can bet they were looking to redeem themselves like a book of S&H Green Stamps. (How much did I just age myself?)

On top of that, the Aeros are playing 4 games in 6 nights and they looked a little tired. I thought the Stars had the edge on speed and sharpness all night, even though the Aeros seemed to be giving it all the gas they had.

One of the guys will probably give you the full quote, but after the game, Constantine said the goals against were Team Goals Against. Indeed they were. Breakdowns started upfront and rolled back to the net. Man, that second goal on Dubie by Peters was just sick. Sure Gunderson got beat badly on it, but it was a sweet goal finding the hole over Dubie's shoulder.

I continue to be impressed by Cody Almond. He just has terrific vision and hockey sense and does the "little things" coaches always talk about that make a big difference.

Brandon Rogers is another guy who really seems to have that ability to dig deep and find energy when others seem to be lagging a bit. He was terrific tonight. And really, you can't say enough about a guy who goes from being a cornerstone of a team's defense to being the STARTING CENTER. This isn't just like John Scott filling in on the wing. That's still a tough transition, but centers have more responsibility, a LOT more skating, and then to be the starting center? Wow.

We always have a laugh about it and shake our heads when he's announced as such each night because of what it says about the team as a whole, but it says nothing but really great things about Brandon.

This isn't going to be popular, but I'm going old school with the stick figure today. Well, technically there's no stick figure at all, but this is the kind of thing where a string of photos from Fred would probably give us some proof one way or the other as to that no-goal call.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter, but we all felt like based on replays that it was not a goal. It looked like it hit the back of the post and out, but I really don't believe if you could look down from above, that the puck was ALL the way over the line.

This drawing conclusively proves that T3I needs Fred taking pictures for us, because that is just craptastic and proves absolutely nothing.

Speaking of Fred, be sure and tell him HAPPY BIRTHDAY because he turns 29 today (Saturday)! Happy Birthday Freddycakes!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12/16 -- Aeros v. Rampage -- The Anytime At All Edition

The Aeros were a tired team on Wednesday night. And it showed, especially in the first period when they allowed the San Antonio Rampage to take 11 shots. But Wade Dubielewicz, making the start instead of the freshly returned from Minnesota Anton Khudobin, kept the Rampage off the board and allowed the Aeros to regroup during the first intermission.

The two teams skated about even until a string of fantastic passes from Jon DiSalvatore to Justin Falk to Nathan Smith found Colton Gillies at 9:34 of the second period. Gillies was in a great spot and Josh Tordjman, who played a fantastic game in goal despite the defeat, was in no position to stop the puck as the Aeros went up 1-0.

The score stayed at 1-0 for 20 more minutes until, at 10:01 of the third, Matt Watkins stole the puck behind the Aeros net and found Mikkel Boedker in front of the net. Boedker then buried the puck to knot the score at 1-1, where it stayed for the rest of the game.

Both goalies were on the top of their games, thus the game went into overtime. It appeared that it would go into OT, but with only 36 seconds left, Chad Rau made a great play on the puck and found Max Noreau. Noreau skated in toward the net -- a bit unusual as he’s usually firing away from the blue line -- and went top shelf to give the Aeros the 2-1 win.

“Rau made a good play and came out of the corner,” Noreau said. “I think I’d just stepped on the ice, so I was just trying to find some open ice and help him out and maybe make it an easy pass for him…the goalie went down pretty early. I’m just glad we got the two points.”

Indeed, two points the Aeros did get. The Aeros also got their third straight win, giving them six points in four days, and the win moved them back into fourth place, percentage points ahead of Rockford.

“I thought we were real fortunate to survive [the first period],” Constantine said after the game. “We looked like a team that had played four games in six nights. We looked tired. But the good part about the team is they regrouped and we had a good second, which has been trouble for us against San Antonio….that set the stage to win.”

And win they did before a “crowd” of 2538. They have two games left before the Christmas break, with the next one on Friday night here at Toyota Center against the Texas Stars.

SOME MISCELLEANOUS NOTES:

The Aeros are a tired team that is on a roll, having just won their third straight game. But they’ve been on three game rolls before, only to fall apart and lose just as many. Thus a record which has them hanging around the breakeven part. This is something the team recognizes, and they want to get into the break on a five game winning streak.

“At this point in the season, especially with Christmas break coming up, that’s a huge motivation for the guys,” Noreau said about keeping the winning streak going. “We’ve only got two games left, so just get it everything we got and make it five in a row, and then once we get back, guys are going to be fresh from coming home for the holidays, and we just take it from there.”

The Aeros will have played 33 games as they hit the break, and will be nearly halfway through the season. They will have also played nearly half of their home games, and by the time New Year’s Day hits, the team will have played half of its home schedule. So let’s hope Noreau is correct and that the team uses this upcoming break as motivation for a winning streak.

****************
Colton Gillies got the game’s first goal, which was notable for being -- besides the first goal of the game -- his first goal since Opening Night on October 2. It’s been frustrating for Gillies, but he says that he’s been working on his game, and trying not to worry because he’s been getting encouragement from Constantine.

“It’s definitely nice to get the monkey off the back a little bit,” Gillies said about his first goal since Opening Night. “The coach said, just stick with it, I’m doing everything right. I’ve been working hard in practice and doing all of those extra things with the hope that I might get one, which I did, so it was good.”

***************
And for those of you who are curious, the Aeros now officially have a captain as Jon DiSalvatore was awarded the “C” before last Friday’s game with Peoria. He’s the first “lone” captain on the Aeros since Erik Reitz was captain back in 2007-08. The Aeros rotated the “C” last season, and it was worn, at various times, by Clayton Stoner, Brandon Rogers, Krys Kolanos, Corey Locke, and somebody who I’m probably forgetting.

***************
Tonight’s song from The Beatles is “Anytime At All.” It’s dedicated to the team for finally naming a captain. And for Gillies finally getting a goal. And for the team’s winning streak. And for the team waiting until overtime was nearly over to get the win. So, until Friday, here’s The Beatles.

My one overriding thought in this game....


(Okay, not you readers. And not Brusty. And not John and Andrew. But everyone else.)

Alright, fine, I thought other stuff.

Interesting to see Noreau get a goal in close like that. Seriously, when's the last time you saw him score from anywhere but the high slot or point? Not that there's anything wrong with that. He's the 9th highest scoring defenseman in the league (and tied with about 7 other guys for 2nd in goals scored). Just neat to see him show a flash of sniper. Thought he had a pretty good game all the way around actually.

Dubielewicz had a fantastic game. If the circumstances were different, I might warm to him. But alas, circumstances are what they are. *brrrrrr* Still, props for making some really tremendous saves tonight. One that probably SHOULD be the drawing buuuut you get what you pay for.

BTW, I missed the first half of the first period because I was having dinner before the game and friggin' George and Barbara Bush roll in to the restaurant. You can't just leave when you start seeing secret service agents, dark suits and pigtail earpieces and all, rolling into a joint like El Rey on Washington Ave.

I'm gonna go wallow in emo misery now. See you Friday.

View from the Press Box - Aeros 2, San Antonio 1 (OT)

The Aeros are in a rhythm now and the light at the end of the tunnel is Sunday's game against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

After Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win against San Antonio, the Aeros have two games before the Christmas break and they are going to do everything they can to make it a five-game winning streak heading into Christmas.

I like short-term goals, and Noreau (whose goal was an absolute beauty) said the Aeros need to start stringing together a few wins, and now is the perfect time to do it.

John will write more later about Wednesday game, but here are a few instant observations:

  • The Aeros looked a bit sluggish to start, but hey, they played their fourth game in less than a week.
  • Dubielewicz didn't allow any goals as the Aeros were outshot 11-10 in the first 20 minutes.
  • The Aeros out-shot the Rampage 26-13 in the next 40 minutes.
  • Colton Gillies scored his first goal since opening night.
  • Jon Disalvatore and Justin Falk did a great job of getting the puck to Nathan Smith, who then fed a wide-open Gillies for the east 1-0 lead.
  • Josh Tordjman played his best game of the year against the Aeros Wednesday night.
  • Jeff Smith is way too predictable.
  • Someone needs to tell Jeff Smith that he is way too predictable.
  • Jeff Smith is one of the luckiest men alive.