The Aeros took a licking tonight. They took the licking, but they kept on ticking, getting the 2-1 win over Peoria to sweep the Rivermen and move on to the next round of the playoffs.
I'll try to get on with quotes and photos later tonight, but I can't promise anything since it's been a long day, and I'm really tired. That said...
Drew Bagnall admitted he was lucky on his goal, a shot from around center ice that tied the game in the second. But while there was luck involved, it was a designed play. Bagnall and Mike Yeo said after the game that everyone knew of Bishop's tendency to play the puck, and that Darryl Sydor had been preaching to the guys that if they got the chance, to fake going hard around the glass then throw it to the net in the chance that something would happen. And what do you know, something happened. Good scouting from the staff.
Yeo was proud of the way that guys like O'Sullivan, DiSalvatore, Earl, and Wellman responded to the pounding they got. Knowing they were going to take the hit, they kept executing the system and made the plays that needed to be made.
Still, the hockey gods were smiling down on Houston. I don't know if you could tell over AHL Live, or from what Joe O'Donnell was saying on the radio, but it's impossible to describe just how close Peoria was to sending the game to OT there at the very end. Twice in the closing seconds the puck hovered on the ice, in empty space, inside the blue box, just millimeters away from that red line. And nobody was able to knock it in. Hackett said he thought he had the last one smothered in his chest, and was shocked when his teammates were screaming that the puck was behind him.
But sometimes, the hockey gods really do smile on you.
A quick bit of trivia: I have now travelled to three Aeros playoff games where they had the chance to clinch a series and advance. And they've won all three. I think the Aeros/Wild need to keep that tidbit it mind.
And one more thing, the Houston Press is kind of close to killing Aeros coverage because they don't think anybody in the city gives a damn about hockey -- they're giving me the playoffs to get numbers up, or no hockey coverage next year. So please go over and read the story I've got there tomorrow. Make sure to click on it if you can. Leave a comment if you want. Don't do it just for me, but do it so that the team can continue to get some coverage while the rest of the city's media covers losers like the Astros and the Texans.