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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hackett, Kampfer lead Aeros to 2-1 win over the OKC Barons

With more than 12,000 fans in their seats, the Aeros won for the 10th time in their last 15 games with a 2-1 win over the OKC Barons Saturday night at Toyota Center.

Goals by newly acquired Dan DaSilva and Steven Kampfer led the way offensively, and that proved to be enough for Matt Hackett, who continued his strong play since Darcy Kuemper got the call up to the Minnesota Wild.

Hackett made double-digit saves in every period, and needed every one of them in the third period, as the Aeros were out-shot 13-6. For his efforts, Hackett was named the No. 3 star of the game.

Kampfer got the first star with a goal and an assist, and his first of the season was good for the game winner. I know I have said it quite a few times on this blog during the last month or so, but Kampfer's turnaround this season has been impressive.

In Nov, Dec, and his first four games in 2013, he was minus-22 with just two assists. In the 16 games since then, he's plus-8 with a goal and seven assists. Hackett, too, had a great February. Saturday, he finished the month with a 5-3 record and his goals against was 2.22 with a .928 saves percentage.

Aeros hold on for 2-1 win - Photo by Morris Molina
Big picture wise, I don't know how they keep doing it. This roster shouldn't be 10-5 in their last 15 games and the seventh best team - point-wise - in the entire AHL. John Torchetti is getting the most out of Chad Rau and David McIntyre and Jim Mill has found suitable plugs to keep the ship more than just afloat.

The Aeros will get some much-needed practice time this week before making trips to Abbotsford and Charlotte for their next four games.

Their comeback in OKC fell just short Friday night, and the Aeros were able to get two points out of the weekend with the win on Saturday. With 21 games left in the season, it is believed that the Aeros will need 23 more points to hit the imaginary mark of 86 to make the playoffs.

Let's hope there is enough left in the tank for 12-14 more wins.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Aeros play a home and home series against OKC this weekend

Everyone thought that the OKC Barons would disappear off the face of the earth when the Oilers recalled all of their best players to the NHL after the lockout was lifted.

They sulked for a few weeks, but they are back to playing decent hockey again under Todd Nelson. They have points in four of their last five with three wins, and they are in the middle of a stretch where they will play eight straight two-game series against various teams.

Six games into that stretch, they've split two of those series and swept the Grand Rapids Griffins at home. If I were a bettin' man, I'd put my money on another split this weekend against the Aeros.

The Barons can score enough goals to win usually; their problems usually stem from the blueline and their rock solid goalie from last season, Yann Danis, has been a human being this year.

The Aeros are still missing several key players due to injury and callup, so they likely won't hit four goals unless the Barons really don't come to play this weekend.

Houston is currently fifth in the conference and currently on a mathematical pace to land the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. Most AHL experts think and agree that 86 points will get you into the playoffs, and the Aeros are still 25 points away from that.

Still a long way to go, but they are in better shape than some other teams below them in the standings.

Also, the crowd Saturday night is going to be massive - the lower bowl is sold out, and they are busy selling seats upstairs. The Aeros have played pretty good in front of large crowds the last two years, but it is autograph night and that usually spells doom for our boys.

Here are some notes on the Aeros and Barons from the Aeros PR office:

Houston Aeros (27-19-4-3, 61 points) at Oklahoma City Barons (23-19-2-5, 53 points)

The Houston Aeros and the Oklahoma City Barons meet for the eighth of 12 games this season. The Aeros took the last meeting on Jan. 1, a 4-2 win for Houston at the Toyota Center – the team’s fifth straight win over Oklahoma City. The first three meetings of the season were at the Cox Convention Center in downtown OKC. The Barons visited the Toyota Center for the first time this season with a pair of games in late November. Houston swept the two-game set with a 2-1 shootout win on Nov. 29 and a 4-3 regulation win on Nov. 30. Houston has taken six of the seven previous meetings this year (6-1-0-0), including three shootout wins.

Houston plays the final of eight straight on the road. The longest road trip of the season has included stops in Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Rockford, Texas, Rochester, Hamilton, Toronto and Oklahoma City. The team will travel 6,496 miles over 17 days prior to returning to home ice on Saturday, Feb. 27 to host the OKC Barons. The Aeros claimed a 2-1 shootout decision on Monday night at Toronto, moving to 5-2-0-0 on the road trip. The win moved Houston to 14-11-2-1 on the road and 6-4-0-0 over the last ten games.

Oklahoma City enters Friday’s game coming off a 4-0 loss at Texas on Feb. 16. The team is 15-8-2-1 at home this season and 5-3-0-2 over the last ten games. The Barons have three straight wins at home, where they outscore their opponents 91-83.

Over the last three years, Houston and Oklahoma City have met 25 times. The Aeros are 16-6-0-3 all-time, including a 9-2-0-2 record on home ice. Oklahoma City is 9-9-1-6 all-time against Houston, including a 5-6-1-4 record at Toyota Center. Oklahoma City claimed three of four in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs and posted a 7-0-0-1 record during the 2011-12 regular season against Houston. The Barons outscored the Aeros 26-12 last season, posting a perfect 4-0-0-0 mark at home and a 3-0-0-1 record at the Toyota Center. Houston took nine out of 10 games in 10-11.

Houston has outscored Oklahoma City 27-20 in the seven previous meetings this season. The Aeros are 8-for-31 (25.8%) on the power play against the Barons this year, while Oklahoma City is 7-for-28 (25%) in the series. Six of the top seven scorers for Oklahoma City against Houston are now in the NHL. Defenseman Justin Schultz (2g,7a), forward Jordan Eberle (2g,7a), forward Taylor Hall (4g,3a), Teemu Hartikainen (1g,3a), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1g,2a) and Magnus Paajarvi (1g,2a) are all with the Edmonton Oilers. Center Mark Arcobello is the series’ active leading scorer with four goals and six assists for ten points in seven games against the Aeros. The Aeros are missing two of their top three scorers against OKC this season. Jason Zucker (5g,3a) is currently in Minnesota with the Wild. Defenseman Brian Connelly (8a) has been out with an injury. Forwards Justin Fontaine and Charlie Coyle are also among the team leaders. Fontaine has three goals and seven points in six games against the Barons, while Coyle has three goals and six points in seven games. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Random Brilliant Video

Sorry to interrupt the Aeros news here, but for just 73 cents a day, you too can help a hockey player.
This goes straight into the Top 10 of my all-time hockey promotions. What are your favorites?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's it's all about through the eyes of an 8-year old

On Monday morning, my 8-year old son woke me up at 6:45 in the morning.

"Dad! You have GOT to see this ... "

"CJ" is not your normal 8-year old, and that is my fault. This child does very well in school and listens to his mom (mostly), but he lives and breathes baseball and hockey. I have no idea where get gets that from.

Zucker after his first NHL goal in St. Paul
He is a baseball player, one of the best in the Houston metro area for his age, and yes I am biased. But he loves watching hockey too, and can tell you the names of all the NHL teams and who their AHL affiliates are.

So when I heard him scream that I have GOT to come see this, I was not surprised to see him watching Channel 681, the NHL network.

He'd already hit the "pause" button after re-winding the DVR to the point where Wild forward Jason Zucker got the puck in his own end. When I sat down, CJ played the highlight for me and I almost teared up when he was more impressed with how Zucker basically undressed Valtteri Filppula and sped in on Peter Mrazek than the actual goal itself.

And then he made the comment I will never forget.

"Dad, it looks like he doesn't need us any more."

I knew what he meant. Us is the Aeros. And because one goal against his favorite team, my 8-year old doesn't think Jason Zucker belongs in the AHL any more.

I know Jason Zucker hopes he's right, although I still think the Aeros will have his services again at some point, but I could be wrong. But Zucker and Coyle and Brodin and Granlund and Larsson and Kuemper and Hackett weren't with won't be with the Aeros forever.

CJ, about four "seasons" ago. Yes, he scored two-hole..
And CJ didn't care that he may not ever get to see Zucker again in Houston. He was thrilled beyond belief that he could see one of his favorite players in the NHL making highlights.

To be perfectly honest, I used to hate it when Aeros got called up. Call me selfish because that is exactly what it was. I was more concerned about how that affected the Aeros that I was about a guy going up to live out his life long dream.

How narrow-minded! But that is a true confession from someone that has followed this organization since its inception.

Here is a link to the story about the john that John Torchetti has done with the Wild prospects during their time down in Houston. It's a great reminder of why the Aeros exist and the true roles and responsibilities of their coaches.

Now when the Aeros get called up, I want to be more like my son.

As we sat down for cereal Monday morning, my 8-year old didn't ask when Zucker might come back to the Aeros and when he could see him at Toyota Center. Caden wanted to know the next time the Wild are in Dallas.

Man, I love that boy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hackett/PK lead Aeros to fifth win in six games

Let's be frank. The Aeros had no business skating out of Toronto with two points, but they did thanks to a strong penalty kill (5-for-5) and Matt Hackett's goaltending.

Chad Rau converted one of the Aeros two shots in the third period, and somehow the boys in green survived OT (Hackett). After that, Hack stopped four of the five shots he saw in the shootout, and Dave McIntyre and Nick Petersen scored to clinch the extra standings point.

Hackett with his best save - photo by Graig Abel
The Aeros have won five of the first seven games of the road trip, and that is certainly nice ahead of Friday's trap game in OKC. Several coaches I have worked with over the years lament the last game of a long road trip, especially one that has been successful.

The Aeros will play a home and home series this weekend with the Barons and a chance to keep things rolling, even without several key players in the lineup.

Rau has played well lately, and even though Marco Scandella is injured (again) the defense continues to roll along. And we can't say enough about Hackett, especially since Kuemper got the call to the Wild. In his last five games, Hackett is 4-1 with a .929 saves percentage, and he is allowing just 1.56 goals per 60 minutes.

The Aeros were out-shot 11-2 in the last 25 minutes, and Hackett, named the game's first star, stopped 10 of them to give the Aeros a chance to win in the shootout.

During the last homestand, Torchetti said the team would have to start winning games 2-1. Well, since January 23, the Aeros are 9-4 and have score more than three goals just twice. In the other seven wins, the Aeros have won four times with two goals or fewer.

Checking mentality, indeed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend catch-up/look-ahead

Oh Aeros...

So, Friday night, they beat a hot Rochester team and look damn good doing it. The added toughness and veteran juju was readily apparent. But Saturday, they lose Zucker and Larsson and get whooped by a bad Hamilton Bulldogs team. *womp womp*

Now, if you've been to Hamilton, it's a proud city but it's also the kind of place that might induce a bit of malaise in visitors. Mr.C and I spent an exciting night there once watching televised bingo in our hotel room.

So, somewhere in my cold, dark heart, I sort of understand when teams go there and mainly just want to leave. "Oskie wee wee! Whiskey wa wa!..."

Anyway, still a really nice run the Aeros are on for being on the road, but tomorrow at Noon CT, they face the Marlies. So, if you're off tomorrow for President's Day, maybe you can listen in online (1070knth.com) or watch on AHLLive.com

Always kind of a crap shoot with the Marlies but they appear to be a lot less potent since the NHL started back up, losing 3 of their top 4 scorers. But they still have Ryan Hamilton and he's got 20 goals and 10 assists, and it seems he ALWAYS finds the back of the Aeros' net. I think doing so is in the CBA: Goal per game against the fans who used to love you. It's part of the "letting go" process.

Won't be a walk in the park, is what I'm saying, but might actually be a good game.

Meanwhile, in the NHL, Kuemper got his second start, literally notified of it partway through warmups, when Nic Backstrom was too ill with the flu (as is a good chunk of the Wild right now) to start. Backs backed up but sat on the bench looking very much like he would prefer to be in bed. Luckily, even just sitting around in it, goalie gear is hot. Maybe he sweated it out a bit.

Anyway, Kuemper got his first win, stopped an awful lot of rubber, including some deceptively difficult shots and breakaways. The Wild certainly didn't protect him from the charms of the (somewhat de-clawed) Detroit Red Wings like one might hope, but he was poised and steady as usual.

Further, Zucker scored a beauty of a first goal. Basically played the exact same game he played in Houston, which is impressive to do in your first NHL game in nearly a year. His speed is just as impressive alongside NHLers, which is awesome to see.

Lots of people said, "Hope you didn't get attached" and such, as though he's never coming back to Houston, but honestly, it's a numbers game. If he stays beyond others being ill, someone's gotta move. But he definitely showed that he's ready, which should surprise exactly nobody who watches the Aeros regularly. But that's great for him.

Larsson also played his first NHL game and played really well. Again, very much the same game he played here.

All in all, as much as Coach Torchetti can be proud of what the guys do down here, his real mission is accomplished on days like this, where guys go up and not only fit in, but contribute in a big way to the Wild's success. As Torch himself would say, That's the bottom line.

Aeros have a home and home vs. OKC Friday and Saturday. So, be sure and get out to the game Saturday, because they're gone until March 14th after that. Worth the price of admission just to see how bad the ice is after the NBA ASG and disuse for weeks on end.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Matt Kassian and Charlie Coyle will join the Aeros in Rochester

The Aeros lineup just got a little bit better with the addition of Charlie Coyle and Matt Kassian. For Coyle, it's just a numbers game, and you can rest assured that he'll be back with the Wild sooner than later.

Matt Kassian, who has not played a game yet this year, was waived. I was kind of surprised that he cleared, but nonetheless, he did and was assigned to Houston.

The Amerks and Aeros are the hottest teams in the conference right now (last nine games), so Friday's match will be fun to watch. Rochester scores a lot, but they can give up a few goals, too. I think a 4-3 final is a lot more likely than 2-1, as was the case Tuesday in Cedar Park.

Here is more on Coyle and Kassian from the Aeros press office:

Aeros Release Ryan Ginand and Mathieu Aubin

Houston, TX – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher announced on Thursday the National Hockey League (NHL) club has reassigned forwards Charlie Coyle and Matt Kassian to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL). In addition, Houston Aeros General Manager Jim Mill announced the team has released forwards Ryan GInand and Mathieu Aubin.

Coyle, 20 (3/2/92), was recalled by Minnesota on Feb. 3 and made his NHL debut at Phoenix on Feb. 4. He skated in five games with the Wild and averaged 14:48 in TOI/game and registered six shots. Coyle has collected 24 points (14-10=24) in 44 games with Houston this season. He ranks second on the club in goals scored and sits among the AHL rookie leaders in tallies.

Coyle was acquired by Minnesota from San Jose along with Devin Setoguchi and a 2011 first-round draft selection (Zack Phillips) in exchange for Brent Burns and a 2012 second-round pick on the first day of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul on June 24, 2011.

Kassian, 26 (10/28/86), did not appear in a game with Minnesota this season. He has notched two goals and 67 penalty minutes (PIM) in 28 career matches with the Wild. Kassian has recorded 21 points (9-12=21) and 493 PIM in 220 games with the Aeros from 2007-12. The Wild drafted the 26-year old in the second round (#57 overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Ginand is scoreless in five games with Houston over three separate stints this season. He rejoins the Aeros ECHL affiliate, the Orlando Solar Bears. There he ranked among the top ten scorers, potting six goals and adding 13 assists for 19 points in 24 games played.

Aubin was scoreless in two games with the Aeros, making his Houston debut on Feb. 9 in Rockford. Prior to joining the Aeros, he played the entire 2012-13 season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. In 47 games as the captain of the team, the 26-year old scored 11 times and set up 25 others for 36 points.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hackett carries Aeros to 2-1 win over Texas

A mere 20 seconds into Tuesday's game, the Aeros were forced to come up with plan B. With three top AHL defensemen already on the shelf with injuries, NHL veteran Paul Mara decided to take the law into his own hands.

The law won.

Instead of getting payback for Mike Hedden's cheap shot from an earlier game, Mara earned a seven-minute power play for the Stars right out of the gate. Hedden did not engage, and Mara got 17 minutes worth a penalties and watched the rest of the game from the stands.

Hackett makes the stop - Texas Stars Photo
At that moment, it was the Stars' game to lose, and they peppered Matt Hackett with 37 shots while the Aeros managed no more than five in any single period. In fact, three Stars players - Jordie Benn, Justin Dowling and Matt Fraser - teamed up to out-shoot the Aeros 19-17 on their own.

But the Aeros got the last laugh, winning 2-1 in a shootout and saved Mara from being an absolute selfish goat. The old-school guy in me wants to shame Hedden for backing away for what he surely knew what was coming. But the Stars, already without many of their best players, took the seven-minute power play and dominated the game from there.

There were questions before the game as to where Matt Hackett's head would be after watching Darcy Kuemper get the emergency recall to Vancouver to make his NHL debut against the Canucks. His playing time already dwindling, Hackett sees the writing on the wall - Kuemper has moved ahead of him on the depth chart.

For now, it's Hackett's net, and he is going to have to keep playing like he did Tuesday to get another shot at the NHL, either with the Wild or another NHL organization down the road.

Carson McMillan tied the game in the second period with a short-handed goal, and the Aeros, after surviving OT, scored three times (goals by Phillips, Larsson and Fontaine) in the tie-breaker to take the extra two points. In the first four games of their eight-game road trip, the Aeros are 3-1; they have won seven of their last 10 games after the six-game winless slide.

Now the Aeros will take their game to upstate New York and Canada. First, they'll play the red-hot Rochester Americans, who seem to score about eight goals per game. Then it's off to Hamilton where they'll get their first look at the Bulldogs, who are the worst team in the West this year. Recently, though, they've won three of four and four of seven.

After that, they'll play a matinee in Toronto on President's Day before returning South for a home and home against the OKC Barons.

It's hard to argue that Matt Hackett was the No. 1 star of the game. And while we don't know how long Kuemper will be with the Wild, it's save to say that every game for Hackett this week will be bigger than the one before.

Let's hope we see more of the Hackett that saved the Aeros Tuesday night in Cedar Park.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kuemper recalled in advance of tonight's game against Texas; Scandella re-assigned and will play

Updated ...

Much to the surprise of frequent poster, ICEVET, the Wild recalled goalie Darcy Kuemper, who may make his NHL debut tonight at Vancouver.

Also, as Heather mentioned in the comments below, Marco Scandella has been re-assigned, and he will take the ice tonight for the Aeros against the Texas Stars.

Kuemper will get the call as Josh Harding deals with a few MS-related health issues. He's been feeling kind of fuzzy, and will take a break to let Kuemper man the pipes against the Wild's biggest pain the ass, the Vancouver Canucks.

From as Aeros focus, wow ... what a game this will be for Matt Hackett?! First, you lose your No. 1 AHL job to Kuemper, and now you have to start on the night that you teammates gets rewarded with an NHL callup.

Let's hope we get to see the Hackett that gets pissed, bears down and plays like we have seen him play in the past. He used to be very good at responding to adversity. Tonight very well could be the toughest hockey issue he's had to deal with since wearing an Aeros sweater.

If the defense plays well in front of him, I expect a solid game from No. 31.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Aeros sweep weekend games at Milwaukee and Rockford

Rockford IceHogs Photo
Just take a look at the injury report there to the right. What a sad mix of bad luck, frustration and repetitive injuries. As a fan, I know how frustrating it is when you can't really know what to expect night in and night out. But can you imaging what the coaching staff must be thinking, especially on a part of the schedule where there is zero time to practice?

We got a glimpse of that a few days ago when head coach John Torchetti let his guard down a bit to reveal his level of frustration (See below)

To keep this team at a level that will give them a chance at the playoffs with all the injuries is a true testament of Torchetti's belief in his guys. I don't know what to think of the Aeros in their last 25 games or so, but just when it looks like they are primed for a poor stretch, the team pulls out of it and gets the job done with what left of the original squad and anywhere from 7-10 ECHLers.

It's gotten to the point where Torchetti half jokes that he expects that he'll never have fewer than six guys on the shelf at any given time. And it's the kind of joke where you have to joke because you're not really joking. Haha?

The Aeros won at Milwaukee 5-2 on Friday and followed that up with a 2-0 shutout on Saturday. They now have played more games than just about anybody, so that fifth place in the conference is a bit deceptive. But if they keep winning on this road trip, they'll set themselves up for a nice finish where they will have a lot of home games after rodeo season.

Oh, and as one of the commenters pointed out, Darcy Kuemper now has enough minutes (more than 900) to qualify on the leaderboard. He is now the No. 2 goalie in the AHL.

The Aeros have a quick two days off before they bus over to Cedar Park. There, they'll try to snap a four-game losing streak again the Stars.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Aeros blanked in Grand Rapids, lose first game of trip

Not much to report on today.
The Aeros lost the first of their eight-game road trip Wednesday night in Grand Rapids.

No goals, and really the only thing of note is another stellar job by rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper. The single goal he allowed (the other was an empty netter) was soft, but Heather always tells me that backhanders are unpredictable, so I will reluctantly call it a good shot.

Also, four defensemen (Mara, Medvec, Kampfer and Genoway combined for 12 of the teams 28 shots.) I like that number, but the forwards have to figure out how to get better positioned for rebounds.

Even though they won the game last Sunday, they could have blown out the IceHogs with better positioning in the slot areas and not always running into each other behind the net. I really believe this is a case of a lot of the new players still getting to know what to do, so no total need to panic just yet.

Here is a recap from the Grand Rapids newspaper, and the "highlights" are included below for your convenience.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On the road again; Back to the Midwest

After a 1-2 homestand, the Aeros will hit the road for eight in a row, and they need to win a minimum of three games with an OT point or two to keep this thing afloat. I watched the game on my couch last night because of flu-like symptoms, and it played out exactly like I thought it would. With all the injuries, the new players, the Coyle recall to the NHL and the fact that they were playing their third game in four nights, I too thought the Aeros did all they could to stay in the game and give themselves a chance in the third period.

The Aeros celebrate one of their two goals Monday
Houston Aeros photo
They had a chance until Matt Hackett gave them their third goal, which Torchetti said was gift-wrapped - and appropriately turned out to be the game-winner. 

And that was another thing the Aeros had stacked against them. Hackett was playing his first game in, what, two weeks? Kuemper, who'd been very good, needed a break ... And you can't fault the goaltending for the first two goals.

When you add up all the variables, Monday was not going to be "good result Monday." I am glad the coaches continue not to make excuses for the team, but all you have to do is look at the injury report - and the same guys that keep going back on it - and you can see that the season is slipping through their fingertips.

(Bagnall back after just a few games, and Cuma is out 4-6 weeks with a broken left foot)

Heather made a good point in her story from last night - maybe another long road bonding trip is just what the doctor ordered. Right now the Aeros are not one of the Top 8 teams in the West when you factor winning percentage, and the odds are stacked against them from a scheduling standpoint.

They have three more games this week, and I'd love them to win just one of them to help them survive this really rough stretch of a lot of games in just a few nights.

All is not lost. This team can still make the playoffs and the No. 5 seed is well within reach. But the injuries are going to have to stop now, and fans are going to have to hope that the Wild are still in the playoff race this time next month.

Have a good Tuesday. Anything will be better than last night.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Aeros kinda whooped by Rampage, 5-2

The Aeros' only Monday night game this season sure felt every bit like it was a Monday. Starting the day off losing Palmieri's offensive punch, also losing Bagnall to injury (after just 2 games back), and then adding New Guys #3 and #4 to a line-up that already doesn't know which way is up half the time.

Oh and then bring back Jed Ortmeyer on the OTHER team and have him score 2, including the game winner, on a "gift-wrapped" goal

Fuck you very much, Monday.

Torchetti was even-keeled about the state of his team, however, saying he was proud of the battle the guys showed, pressuring well to the end of the game, making some adjustments on the PP that helped, and generally getting some good chances.

I got the feeling he wasn't too happy with Hackett's performance (or at least he made a face when I asked about him that I've never seen him make before). I don't think it's because there were a lot of bad goals but because the one really bad one was the turning point of the game, and the game winner.

"Goaltending is going to have to carry us," he told us after the game, and I don't know about you guys, but that's a little worrisome. Not a lot, but a little. I just don't think the Aeros have the maturity in net right now (and I mean that in terms of just straight up experience weathering the storm as a pro) to really pull that off.

Torchetti said, "It's going to come down to the last week." He said he can just feel it happening, and it's hard to argue. The Aeros are just keeping afloat, really.

I think a road trip will help, though. And after this weekend, they'll have much of a week at home to practice, with no travel and no games. That is something they sorely need if the new guys are sticking around for a while, so they can get up to speed.

Here's hoping most of you got your fill of hockey this weekend. They don't play at home again until Feb. 23. Then they're off again until March 14 (vs. Brusty's Abbotsford, so you know that's circled in a big red heart on my calendar).

I'm told I still have to pay attention to them while they're on the road, so I'll try not to be a huge slacker on here, but it probably won't work and I'll just hope Andrew posts a bunch. Enjoy your February, everybody!

Wild trade Nick Palmieri to NY Rangers

Just a quick note here to let everyone know that Nick Palmieri was traded along with Darroll Powe of the Wild to the NY Rangers for Mike Rupp.

It was only a matter of time for Palmieri, who wore out his welcome last month when he refused to report to the Aeros after the Wild cut him following training camp.

In his last 11 games, Palmieri scored just one goal, added one assist and was virtually invisible until a few games ago.

Really, this is for the best for the organization, but the team is really hurting for bodies right now. Still lots of guys injured, and the comment from head coach John Torchetti is that there's no timetable for their return.

We'll see how it affects the lines tonight.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Aeros rebound Sunday with 3-2 win over Rockford

As good as Carter Hutton was in the second period to keep his Rockford IceHogs out in front of the Aeros, it looked like the Aeros were going to start their three-game homestand 0-for-2. But after Brett Bulmer scored a pretty goal, hitting just about the only open spot available, Dave McIntyre gave the Aeros the game-winner when he powered a shot off Hutton and into the net.

"Just shoot the puck," said Aeros head coach John Torchetti.

Justin Fontaine tries to shoot through the defense. Houston Aeros photo
Rockford carried play in the third period, but the Aeros got the only two goals of the period for a 3-2 win in front of more than 7,000 fans on Super Bowl Sunday.

Hopefully later tonight, I will have time to give you the whole story and more of a reaction from Torchetti, but for now, just know that the Aeros are happy with the two points. They lost a game when they led after two and won a game, in regulation, when trailing after two, so really it all evens out.

It's so hard to be frustrated with all the disorganization, but the injuries are piling up, and the Wild haven't even harvested the team yet.

Here were the scratches for the game today:
  • Mara (upper body)
  • Coyle (recalled)
  • Connelly (shoulder)
  • Petersen (Undisclosed)
  • Foucault (Undisclosed)
  • Palmer (Undisclosed)
  • Broda (Undisclosed)
  • Cuma (saw him wearing a boot on his left foot today)

Because of the recall and the two new injuries to Cuma and Mara, the Aeros dialed up the ECHL to get the services of Wes O'Neill and Ryley Grantham.

I think legitmate scoring chances were about the same Sunday, but the IceHogs had way more shots. Kuemper was great, again, even though the first goal of the game was as soft as we've seen this year. Just no way that puck should go in in that situation, and I don't think he was screened or it hit anything.

(Even Torchetti said it should have been a 1-1 hockey game going into the third).

Tomorrow, the Aeros will wrap up their homestand against San Antonio. With as bad as the Rampage have been on the road, I think the Aeros will have a good shot at getting the two points, if they get the early lead and make Markstrom think a little bit. He's as good as they come as far as AHL goalies are concerned.

The Rampage are revamped with the addition of former Aero Jed Ortmeyer, but expect another low scoring game. Goals (and butts in the seats) will be at a premium Monday night.

What were your thoughts on the games this weekend? Texas is just better, but I think they got the game-winner by "cheating" for lack of a better phrase. I thought Kuemper was interfered with on their second goal. As for the game today, I think the Aeros deserved at least a point for their effort ... and got two thanks to the greasy goal by McIntyre.