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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Aeros officially announce training camp roster

Here is the presser from J Fish over at the Aeros.
Hockey season is officially upon us.

Should be an interesting year to say the least!

per Aeros.com ...

Aeros Host Opening Night on Saturday, October 13th

Houston, TX – Houston Aeros General Manager Jim Mill announced on Friday the Training Camp roster for the 2012-13 season.

The Aeros kick-off training camp at Xcel Energy Center on Friday, Sept. 28, with the first on-ice session of the season. The training camp roster is composed of four goalies, 13 defensemen and 20 forwards. In all, 14 Minnesota Wild draft picks are on the roster, including four first-round picks and five second-round picks.

The roster consists of the following players:

Forwards: Joel Broda, Brett Bulmer, Josh Caron, Charlie Coyle, Kris Foucault, Justin Fontaine, Ryan Ginand, Mikael Granlund, Ryley Grantham, Eric Lampe, Johan Larsson, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Rob Mignardi, Jarod Palmer, Nick Petersen, Zack Phillips, Chad Rau, Brennan Vargas, Jason Zucker.

Defense: Drew Bagnall, Corbin Baldwin, Jonas Brodin, Brian Connelly, Tyler Cuma, Kris Fredheim, Chay Genoway, Colton Jobke, Steven Kampfer, Sean Lorenz, Kyle Medvec, Mike Montgomery, Marco Scandella.

Goalies: Mike Brodeur, John Curry, Matt Hackett, Darcy Kuemper

The team will spend three days of training camp at Xcel Energy Center from Friday, Sept. 28-Sunday, Sept. 30. There will be two open scrimmages: on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m. The scrimmages are free and open to the public.

Aeros staff and players will depart for Houston following Sunday’s session. The team will hit the ice at the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center in suburban Houston for the first time on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Houston opens its preseason slate in Cedar Park, TX with the Texas Stars on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7:00 p.m. (CT). The Aeros will also play a pair of preseason games in Oklahoma City on Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m. (CT) at the Cox Convention Center. For all practices in Houston, local media may contact the Aeros Media Relations department to arrange attendance to practice. All practices at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center are open to the public.

The Aeros will play 76 regular-season games this season. The home portion of the schedule commences on Saturday, October 13, at 7:05 p.m. with the Charlotte Checkers at Toyota Center. The game will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Aeros game played by the World Hockey Association (WHA) team in 1972.

Aeros season tickets start as low as $9 per seat and may be purchased online at Aeros.com by placing a $100 deposit. Once your order is processed, an Aeros ticket representative will contact you to choose your exact seat location, as well as discuss the payment options. Information on season tickets and mini-plans is also available on the team website at www.aeros.com.  Groups of 15 or more receive a discount on all tickets, to book your group outing to an Aeros game please call 713-974-PUCK (7825).

Training Camp Opens

Training camp, at least the super fun on-ice portion, opens today in St. Paul. We haven't been sent the roster yet (er, there's this, though it doesn't have all the invites), but our hero Kevin Falness did a great series of interviews and I managed to pick up a few others that we didn't know about.

UPDATE: Here's the final camp roster: http://wild.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=642267

They'll practice and scrimmage (scrimmages will be broadcast on Wild.com if you want to watch) through Sunday and then apparently are all driving down to Houston, with an overnight in Kansas City, future home of the Aeros (I'm kidding, settle down), for the Houston portion of the camp to start on Tuesday.

Kind of a bummer to not be able to head out to SLICE and soak it all in, but it sounds like everyone is pretty stoked to get to start things up there and have all the good NHL-level facilities and resources available to them. And the information should be flowing pretty steadily out of Minnesota, so follow the usual suspects on Twitter and on Wild.com if you wish.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cha Cha Cha (Good) Changes!

Even though I won't realize the finality of giving up the Aeros beat until opening night, I am still happy with my decision to resign from the Aeros beat for the Houston Chronicle.

I have followed this iteration of this franchise since its inception in 1994, and I have missed no fewer than 10 home games since 1996.

In short, it's almost like a divorce, and I don't know what I am going to do when we're finally separated.

Having said all that, I am still going to keep involved, and this site - with our *cough* MILLIONS of followers, will stay up to date. John and I are going to cover the games just like we always have, and we are still trying to work it out so we get a credential for a "staff photographer."

But what about Heather, you say? Well ... it's no secret because she already told all of her Twitter and Facebook friends, but SHE IS GOING TO TAKE OVER THE CHRONICLE AEROS BEAT!

That's right, Heather, er Ms. Conduct, is going to be the team's fifth Houston Chronicle beat writer when she officially takes over very soon.

Since 2009, she has been a very reliable and talented backup as I've had to deal with the birth of two children, one of which had two open hear surgeries, and all the baseball games my son is now a part of on the weekends.

And we can't forget about all the times she stepped up and filled in when I was called away to Chicago following the merger of Continental and United.

In short, it's been great having her in my pocket, and now it's her beat. She will do a great job, and even though the team does not get a whole heck of a lot of coverage, the Chronicle has always staffed every home game.

It's hard to give up something that has been a big part of my life for more than 10 years. But knowing that someone so capable and passionate will be taking over makes it that much more of a joy to have been a part of.

Congrats, Heather ... and Godspeed!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hockey's coming! Hockey's coming!

As Andrew wrote previously, the Aeros will hold a few days of camp in Minnesota, just to give those hockey-hungry Wild fans a little love. Then they head to Houston, have a handful of (out of town) pre-season games, and a week of practice before the season begins in earnest.

Unlike most seasons, there will be no waiting for the top players to come down from Minnesota while a bunch of other guys basically get a try-out. What you see is what you get... at least once you get to see them. Personally, that week of practice between the pre-season games and regular season are the ones I'd head to. That's when they're gearing up for the real deal, testing line combos, etc. Gimme gimme.

Anyway, here's the schedule, which starts in Minnesota (and based on Twitter, sounds like guys are already convening on the Xcel Energy Center):

Is anybody else anxious enough for the season to drive to Austin on a week night for the first pre-season game? Thinking my travel mojo is better saved up for games that matter, but it's tempting. I'm dying to see something besides Stanley Cup reruns and rec league.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pre-camp Update

Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts ... you know the rest.
I sure am disappointed that the NHL and players association could not come to an agreement before the lockout. I think many of you who are also big NHL fans agree with me. I have a feeling this is going to be another long, drawn-out process, and my personal opinion is that we won't see NHL hockey until right around Dec. 1.

This is not my original thought, but I certainly do agree that the owners are losing the PR battle this time around. Gary Bettman has come across as very cold and completely unbelievable. It is kind of sad what has happened to the NHL in the last decade based on how great it was in the 1990s.

Too bad this generation of players will be remembered more for two lockouts and getting dropped ESPN.

If there is anything good to come out of the lockout its that Aeros fans will get to see NHL-caliber talent at Toyota Center. This is a great article about the responsibility that John Torchetti will have here in Houston. Great read.

For those of you who don't already know, the Aeros will have a three-day camp in St. Paul starting on the 28th, and they will play up to three exhibition games against Texas and OKC. All of them will be on the road, and when the Aeros send out their first release on training camp and the preseason schedule, I will certainly pass that information along to you.

During the last lockout, the Aeros also shared an affiliation with the Wild and Dallas Stars. And because of that, Aeros fans got to watch Mike Smith, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu.

I think it is safe to say that those guys have grown up to be great or really good NHLers, but their time in Houston was just so-so. I remember that year a lot of the future stars - including Koivu - played "not to get hurt," and I think the team suffered because of it.

I would expect some of that to a certain extent, but there will be much better talent on the ice at Toyota Center this time around.

Also in closing, I wanted to mention that I will no longer cover the Aeros for the Houston Chronicle. As I continue to chase the dream of being the world's finest PR guru, I have less and less time to share with the sports world and my lovely family. I have a new job, having left United/Continental after 14 wonderful years.

That being said, I will still be at the rink - I just won't be there for every single game. I plan lots of good things for The Third Intermission this year. I covered more than 400 home games since 2002, and I could not be more proud of the work I did for the Chronicle. Even as the coverage diminished, I made sure every game - both home and road - at least got a recap.

It remains to be seen as to who will take my place, but I will help them with anything they need to ensure a smooth transition. I'd be lying if I said I won't miss seeing my name above all the Aeros stories. It was both a thrill and a dream come true to put my mark on the history of the team and to work with great coaches like Todd McLellan, Rob Daum, Kevin Constantine, Mike Yeo and John Torchetti.

Off all the freelance gigs I've ever had, this was and will always be my favorite. Now, I get to spend more time with my wife and three kids and making this site even better. It already is the best non-team affiliated blog of any Western Conference team.

Let's keep it going, eh?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wild Assigns Players to Aeros Roster

Apparently I'm no longer on the Aeros PR email list, but since Heather and Andrew are on vacation, and since I still got the info, here's a list of re-signings the Wild just made, and a list of players they just assigned to the Aeros roster as the NHL gets ready for the lockout.

Re-signed by the Wild and assigned to the Aeros are:

1. C David McIntyre
2. RW Carson McMillan
3. RW Jarod Palmer

And also assigned by the Wild to the Aeros roster are:

1. D Drew Bagnall
2. C Joel Broda
3. D Jonas Brodin
4. RW Brett Bulmer
5. D Josh Caron
6. D Brian Connelly
7. RW Charlie Coyle
8. D Tyler Cuma
9. RW Justin Fontaine
10. LW Kris Foucault
11. D Chay Genoway
12. C Mikael Granlund
13. G Matt Hackett
14. D Colton Jobke
15. D Steven Kampfer
16. G Darcy Kuemper
17. LW Johan Larsson
18. D Kyle Medvec
19. C Zack Philips
20. C Chad Rau
21. D. Marco Scandella
22. LW Jason Zucker