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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Zucker Ties AHL record, Aeros win :05 into OT

Johan Larsson and Jason Zucker shocked the Abbotsford Heat and just about everyone else inside Toyota Center with his ninth goal of the season just five seconds into overtime Sunday afternoon.

The teams traded goals in regulation, and after the Aeros wasted a power play gift late in the third period, Zucker and Larsson teamed up for the stunning finish (video below). The goal tied the AHL record for the fastest overtime goal. Zucker's goal tied the record set by Dave Saatzer of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs in 1980, and tied by Chris Corrinet of the Portland Pirates in 2002.

The AHL schedule gods were on the Aeros side this weekend for sure. The Heat, playing its third game in three days, made just enough mistakes to let the Aeros get an extra point in the standings.

Make no mistake: The Heat is the best team the Aeros have played so far on both sides of the puck. They have points in all but two (16 of 18) of their games thus far. OKC, who is here later this week, surely has more offensive power, but the Heat are smart, well coached, have the league's top PK united and they have three (THREE!) goalies that can steal two points on any given night.

Some high-level themes that stood out for me include the Aeros giving up two goals on turnovers. Everyone we talked to after the game said exactly the same thing: The Heat wait for you to make a bad mistake, and they punish you quickly.

Hackett again solid, letting in just two goals and giving his team a chance to win. When only two go in, you have a chance to win every game. On the first Heat goal, Hack made a great save, then got a little post luck before a Charlie Coyle turnover led to a 1-1 game. Hackett was screened on the second goal after Connelly and Bagnall both turned the puck over ... and then Zucker missed a block. After all that, Estoclet gets in front of Hackett, distracting him just enough. Click below for a good view of how that play developed.


Taylor was good, too, but the Aeros wasted about 3-4 other prime chances that would have kept the Heat from getting the OT point. McIntyre missed a breakaway, and one player (I was reading something and looked up just in time to see the end of it) missed an open net after Taylor was caught out of position in the second period.

UPDATE - Thanks to the Art and Hockey blog, we find out that it was Palmer who missed the empty netter. And she got a splendid picture of the aftermath. But don't look at the hockey players, look at the fans (including one of the Anthem singers in Row 2) ... their faces say it all!

MY, oh MY! (Photo by Art and Hockey)

The goal scored at the end of the second was indeed about a half second too late. The officials got the calls right on both calls (when Mac hit the crossbar on the breakaway and the late goal at the end of the second).

As for the final sloppy power play - look, that is what you are going to get with a ton of rookies and second-year players getting a season-long baptism by fire. The younger players are the more gifted scorers, and they are going to hit one night (see Friday's late PP goal in San Antonio) and they are going to strikeout the next. What I would like to them them improve upon is the desperation to keep the puck in the zone. While I know you don't want to over commit and cause a breakaway, there are a few players that look a little laggard when it comes to keeping a play alive.

I am not going to mention names here, because I have only seen about a third of the games live this year. I think this is an effort issue and not an growing pains issue, so I will wait and see if I see any improvement from these players this weekend.

The Aeros are in the top third of the league in points and points percentage. Given the injury to their top two (arguably) playmakers and (not arguably) one of their top scorers, I think you'll take that.

So what are your thoughts on the game? The Aeros earned four out of four points this weekend and have won three in a row and four of five overall.

Off the post ... and in. (Photos by Morris Molina, Houston Aeros)

Justin Fontaine has 14 points in November. He is en fuego.


scb said...

Have we had any updates lately related to the lease negotiations? I thought Jody Green had an interesting tweet yesterday about 10 am and I could be reading it totally wrong but I have a feeling he is referring to Toyota Center:

"Jody A. Green ‏@JAGtheATC
Every time I come to this place - I realize how much they don't want us here. It's evident by the conflicting stories I get each time."

What ultimately are the issues involved? We know Les wants to keep everything but is he demanding more? Are the Aeros just asking for status quo?

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

There really is nothing new to report, but I think Jody's frustrations are felt by many of the Aeros' employees.

No news is NOT good news in this case, and really it is up to the media to start badgering the organization for an update of some sort.

My personal opinion is that I think the team moving is favored over the team staying, but I put that at only about 60/40.

The team has said time and time again that they will do/are doing everything they can to stay in Houston. I believe them, but as we have seen with the lockout negotiations, there is a huge amount of give and take involved, and we are only getting one side of the story.

The people in charge of Toyota Center have been completely silent on the issue and have not returned messages or phone calls.

We will work on getting an update for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally especially being the snake he is.
No facts just gut feeling. With the NHL season all but toast wouldn't surprise me he's working a deal for one of the failing franchises to end up here.
I would be surprised if the hold up on the negotiations are the Aeros.
Unfortunately he has the only available facility in town (or immediate area)

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

I assume you are talking about Leslie Alexander?
There is no chance of an NHL team moving here for the foreseeable future.

The holdup on negotiations is price/$$ ... that is all. As to what the motives are behind who is asking for what, that is a totally different story and it would not be good business to divulge those during negotiations.

There are a couple of other places they COULD play ... but neither of those would be ready for the 2013-14 season.

I don't think it's a good idea to speculate on this issue until we get another update.

Ms. Conduct said...

They've told me over and over that late November, early December is when to expect some news. We're right there now, but as yet, nothing to report. They are keeping negotiations close to the vest (smartly, as we're seeing the stupidity coming out of the NHL negotiations is just making everybody look like jerks).

I need to catch up with Mill this week on injuries and this subject, so if there's anything to report, of course I will. Though Russo will probably report it before me anyway. ;)

Anonymous said...

From where I sat yesterday, it appeared Bulmer's injury was head or upper body related. Did anyone see what happened? Does anyone know where he was injured and how he's doing?

eminemilie315 said...

I'm late to the party...but what are the options if the lease @ the Toyota Center isn't signed/renewed? Is there another place in Houston that they could play in? Would they move to another city?

eminemilie315 said...

@ anon- Ms. C posted on twitter that he was helped off the ice and wasn't putting weight on his leg (left I think?). I haven't heard head...I really hope not, the Aeros don't need another head injury

Forecheck said...

Anon -You are being too kind to Alexander. Snake is a step up for him. The way he has exploited this city and its tax payers, I would go with lee... Nah, I'll stop while I'm behind.

I'm sure he will chase the Aeros off the minute he thinks he can buy a team at any level during the next lease period (5 or less years out). Be very afraid of a 2 or 3 year lease - the guys are as good as gone.

Still , I am suprised at the TC staff's hostility towards the Aeros. Don't they realize the Aeros are providing them WORK?

Forecheck said...

Emilee - The TC is about it. As per the HSA, no other facility in the HSA zone (Harris County plus any parts of Houston not in Harris County) is not allowed to compete with a HSA facility .

You might be able to challenge that in court, but it probably wouldn't be worth it. I imagine the HSA has most of the movers and shakers in their pockets.

The Aeros would have to find an arena in Fort Bend or Brazoria, and there ain't no such thing.

And by the way, when I say "a team at any level", I'm not excluding the NLL.

Anonymous said...

They know they have the Aeros over a barrel and control all the cards.
Regardless of the new location the logistics of player movement will be somewhat of a nightmare.

Any news on whether any of the injured will be healthy for okc?

Need all we can get with their firepower.