AEROS WEEKLY REPORT
TUE, vs. MIL, 11:05 a.m. (Internet only broadcast)
Houston Chronicle in Education Field Trip Game
Half Price at Center Ice/Business Fan’s Lunch
Log on to www.aeros.com/themenights to order $14 center ice seats! Username is Aeros, password is Tuesday. Or, call 713.974.PUCK to order. You can also add parking for just $5. Special offer not available at the Toyota Center Box Office.
It’s a rematch of one of the most memorable games of the season, a 6-5 Admirals shootout win Saturday in a game that saw 115 penalty minutes, including one time when referee Terry Koharski threw all 10 skaters on the ice in the penalty box. Houston is in first place in the West Division with 71 points, and Milwaukee is the closest challenger at 67 points. The Admirals have one game in hand. Houston has just one more home game remaining in February after this game, and it plays 19 of its final 30 contests on the road.
FRI, at MCH 6:35 p.m. (Radio broadcast joined in progress at 7 p.m.)
The Aeros make their first-ever trip to Verizon Wireless Arena to take on the Manchester Monarchs. The team’s only prior meeting came October 22 at Toyota Center, with former Aero Marty Wilford scoring on a power play 3:04 into overtime to ruin a 43-save performance by Houston’s Josh Harding. Manchester is 2-0-1-0 in its last three since a three-game skid, but fell 2-1 in overtime to Hamilton at home on Saturday. The Monarchs are second in the Atlantic Division with 62 points, just three behind first-place Portland.
SAT, at HAR 6 p.m.
The Aeros and Wolf Pack play just twice a year, but it’s one of the more intense rivalries around. Houston snapped a three-game skid (0-1-0-2) in the series in the last meeting, a 3-1 victory last March 4 at Toyota Center. The Aeros had been shut out in each of the last three meetings by former Wolf Pack netminder Jason LaBarbera. Houston scored a goal in its last two games at Hartford Civic Center, since routing the Pack 6-0 on January 22, 2003. The Aeros are 5-3-0-2 all-time in the series, including a 2-2-0-1 road mark. The Pack has 61 points, third-best in the Atlantic Division but just four points behind first-place Portland. Hartford has won four of five home games and whipped Portland 6-0 on the road Saturday for its third straight victory overall.
All Aeros games are broadcast live on KNTH 1070-AM and through aeros.com. For $6, you can also watch the game live via B2 Networks. Visit aeros.com 10 minutes prior to gametime to order.
Player of the Week C Patrick O’Sullivan
2/4 vs. MIL 2-1=3, -2
Totals - 1gp, 2-1=3, -2
Reigning Rbk Hockey/AHL Rookie of the Month posted three points (2-1=3) in Aeros’ lone game last week, a 6-5 SOL to Milwaukee on Saturday...Had sixth multiple-goal game, tying him with Kirby Law for the team lead...Third on team in three-or-more point games with four...Has seven points (4-3=7) in four-game point streak, two off season-high...Has an assist in three straight games, one off season-high...Has six goals in his last four home games, with at least one goal in each game...After posting four points (2-2=4) in season’s first eight games, O’Sullivan has put up 49 points (25-24=49) in 39 games...Has been held without a point just four times since November 27...Paces all AHL rookies in points (53) and goals (27)...Tied for sixth overall in the AHL in scoring with 53 points - just two points out of fourth place - and is tied for first in GWG (six).
Blood Drive today - The Houston Aeros and Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center team up for a blood drive at "The Hangar", the Aeros’ official merchandise store, inside The Park Shops. Donors get a free T-shirt! The blood drive is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Houston has enjoyed great success on the ice at home this season, but also in the stands as of late. In the last 14 games, dating back to December 16, Toyota Center has hosted 92,074 fans for an average of 6,578. That has boosted the Aeros’ attendance average to 5,616 - up to 10th-best in the AHL. Houston has bettered the 7,000 mark in attendance in each of the last four games, including a combined 22,282 in the last two home games. The last four-game stretch with 7,000 or more fans was during a four-game run to close out the 1998-99 campaign. A large crowd is also expected Tuesday at Toyota Center for the Houston Chronicle in Education Field Trip.
Houston has scored five goals or more in 15 of its 28 home games, and four or more in 19. The Aeros, who have scored five goals in each of their last four games at Toyota Center, have outscored their opponents by a whopping 118-71 margin at home. The plus-47 goal margin is the best in the AHL, and only Wilkes-Barre Scranton (89-49) is within 10 goals. Houston averages 4.21 gpg at home (118 goals in 28 games), on pace for a new franchise-record of 169 goals at home.
C Erik Westrum (32 points) and RW Kirby Law (31) each have points in each of the Aeros’ last 16 home games since a 3-0 shutout loss to Milwaukee on November 27. Westrum has 49 points (15-34=49) in 28 Toyota Center games, while Law has 45 points (21-24=45).
In their last six victories, the Aeros have outscored their opponents 14-3 in the first period. In the last 14 games overall, Houston has a 26-10 goal margin in the opening 20 minutes, and overall on the season the Aeros are an AHL-best plus-27 (61-34).
Houston ranks second in the AHL on the power play (20.9 percent) and third on the penalty kill (85.9 percent), the only team in the league to place in the top five of each category.
The Aeros’ 21-4-1-2 home record (.804 percentage) is second-best in the AHL, just behind Grand Rapids (19-3-1-2, .820 percentage).
Houston put up 52 shots against Milwaukee on Saturday, its most since launching 55 against the Admirals at Toyota Center on January 11, 2005. Brian Finley was the starting goaltender in each game, albeit with much different results. Saturday, he made 47 saves for the 6-5 shootout win. In the January 11 game, Finley made 25 saves and was relieved by current Aero Seamus Kotyk.
Each of the Aeros’ last three victories over the Admirals have come via the shutout. The last time Houston allowed Milwaukee a goal and still won was a 5-2 decision at Bradley Center on November 13, 2004. The last time the Aeros won a home game against the Admirals when allowing a goal was a 4-2 decision on March 15, 2003, at Compaq Center.
RW Kirby Law scored two goals Saturday, remaining tied with C Patrick O’Sullivan for the team lead with six multiple-goal games. Law now has 55 goals in two seasons with the Aeros, and Sunday he jumped from 11th place on the team’s all-time list to a tie for eighth with current NHL assistant coaches Mike Yeo (Pittsburgh) and Scott Arniel (Buffalo). Law has 117 points with the Aeros, two behind Mark Cullen for 14th on the team’s ledgers. Law enters this week with 68 points (29-39=68), second in the AHL behind teammate Erik Westrum (24-48=72). Law is three goals behind his career-high, two assists off his best and five points off his career-high. Law also has 396 points (187-209=396) in 515 career American Hockey League games.
D Curtis Murphy is tied for the AHL lead in defensemen scoring with 41 points (7-34=41), and he’s already just two points off his AHL high in assists, set in 2003-04. His overall career-high in helpers is 43, set with IHL Orlando in 1999-2000. Saturday, Murphy became the fifth player in Aeros history - and just the second defenseman - to notch 100 assists. He continues to be tied with Jeff Tory for most goals ever among Aeros blueliners with 42. Murphy has 195 points (59-136=195) in 287 career AHL games.
Milwaukee’s Scottie Upshall netted the first ever visiting hat trick at Toyota Center on Saturday. The last opposing player to score three goals in Houston was Milwaukee’s Greg Koehler, on November 14, 2002, at Compaq Center in a 5-0 Admirals victory. The last non-Admiral to tally a hat trick in Houston was Cleveland’s Christian Matte on December 28, 2000.
Aeros fall to Admirals in shootout in only game last week
MIL 6, HOU 5 (SO)
Saturday: Scottie Upshall tallied three goals and an assist and scored in the shootout, Rich Peverley netted the deciding shootout score and Brian Finley made 47 saves, as the Milwaukee Admirals outlasted the Houston Aeros 6-5 at Toyota Center in a matchup of the top two teams in the West Division. Greg Classen and Brandon Segal also scored for Milwaukee (31-12-4-1), which closed within four points of first-place Houston (34-12-1-2) in a game that featured 115 penalty minutes.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Kirby Law each scored two goals, and O’Sullivan and Josh Olson each scored in a stirring final 6:22 of regulation as Houston rallied to get a point. Seamus Kotyk made 29 saves for the Aeros.
Aeros’ Practice schedule:
Monday - 10-11:30 a.m., Toyota Center
Tuesday - vs. MIL, 11:05 a.m.
Wednesday - TBA
Thursday - Travel Day
Friday - at MCH, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday - at HAR, 6 p.m.
Sunday - Travel Day
Aeros non game-day practices are at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, the Official Training Facility of the Houston Aeros.
Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center starts "Blow off those Monday blues drop in" - Starting Monday, Feb. 6, from 9:15-10:15 p.m. It’s $15 per skater, and you must be 18 years or older to play. All players must pre-register by Sunday night. Call the pro shop at 281.265.7469 today to reserve your spot. Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center is the Official Training Facility of the Houston Aeros.
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