AEROS WEEKLY REPORT
THU, vs. IOW, 7:05 p.m.
Bring out the Boys Night/Happy Hour
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Iowa makes its final trip of the season to Toyota Center. Houston is 3-1-0-0 at home versus the Stars and 5-2-0-0 overall in the series. The Aeros swept a pair of games at Wells Fargo Arena last weekend. In their five seasons in the AHL, the Aeros have never swept the same opponent in three straight games in eight sets of games. Iowa is 0-3-0-2 in its last five and 1-5-0-2 in its last eight to fall into fifth place in the West Division. The Stars trail fourth-place Omaha by two points, but they do have three games in hand and own the division’s fourth-best points percentage (.500).
SAT, at MIL 7:30 p.m.
The Aeros kick off the biggest weekend of the season, playing twice at second-place Milwaukee. The Admirals play host to San Antonio Thursday, so Houston will still have a game in hand entering the two-game set. Houston (79 points) leads Milwaukee (77) by two in the closest AHL division race to date. The Admirals have just one regulation loss in their last seven games (4-1-1-1), but lost a pair of 4-3 overtime/shootout games to Peoria on Saturday and Sunday. Milwaukee is in a stretch where it plays 16 of 19 games at home, while Houston spends most of that time on the road. The Aeros and Admirals split a pair of games at Toyota Center earlier this month, with Milwaukee winning 6-5 in a shootout and Houston rebounding for a 3-2 victory.
SUN, at MIL 2 p.m.
The Aeros are 2-2-0-1 against the Admirals this season, but they lost their only prior trip north in 2005-06, a 6-1 drubbing on October 28. Each of the final three meetings of the season will be at Bradley Center, capped off by a March 17 game. That’s not good news for Houston, which is 0-4-1-0 in the last five trips in Milwaukee, getting shut out three times and being held to one goal in the other two games. Despite going 2-7-2-0 in the last 11 meetings in Milwaukee, the Aeros are 12-9-2-0 in their last 23 trips to Bradley Center after a 1-10-1-0 start there.
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 RW Kirby Law
2/15 at CLE 1-2=3, +1
2/17 at IOW 1-2=3, +2
2/18 at IOW 1-1=2, -1
Totals 3gp, 3-5=8, +2
Totaled eight points (3-5=8) and became fourth active AHL’er with 400 points in the league as Aeros swept three road games in four days last week...Picked up goal and assist in 6-4 win at CLE Wednesday and a 4-1 win at IOW Friday...Added goal and helper in 4-3 win at IOW Saturday...Wednesday, topped the 400-point plateau...Now has 406 points (191-215=406) in 521 AHL games...Has new career-highs in all major offensive categories in 2005-06, with team-best 33 goals, 45 assists and 78 points...Is just one point off teammate Erik Westrum’s AHL-lead in points...Ranks third in league in goals...Has played in 598 games, counting NHL, AHL and IHL travels...Should appear in game No. 600 Saturday in Milwaukee...Has a goal in each of his last four games, tying season-best and team season-high...Has 10 points (4-6=10) in five-game point streak...Law has moved into a tie for eighth place on the team’s all-time points list with 127 (58-69=127) in less than two seasons...The Aeros are 21-3-1-2 when Law scores a goal.
Westrum interview available on Internet - Aeros center Erik Westrum was recently a guest on the "Power Play Post Show", the only Internet talk show devoted entirely to the American Hockey League. Click here to listen to the interview in a variety of formats.
Veteran D Curtis Murphy had a big week. With three assists Wednesday, he became the Aeros’ all-time leading point-getter from the blueline, and he enters this week with 147 points (43-104=147). His third-period power play goal Saturday was not only the game-winner, but it was his 43rd with the Aeros, making him the all-time leading goal scorer among Aeros defensemen as well. The goal was also his 200th career AHL point (60-140=200) in 294 games. Murphy’s 104 assists with the Aeros trail only Greg Hawgood (109) for the top spot among defensemen. Murphy is tied for second among AHL blueliners this season with 46 points (8-38=46). Murphy’s 38 assists are already a new AHL-high for him - his career-best was 43 with IHL Orlando in 1999-2000.
LW/C Patrick O’Sullivan leads all AHL rookies with 61 points (31-30=61). Cory Larose holds Aeros rookie records in goals (32), assists (32) and points (64), set in 2001-02. O’Sullivan is tied for sixth overall in the AHL in points and fourth in goals.
Houston (38-14-1-2) enters this week with 79 points, and a magic number for clinching a playoff spot of 25 points. That’s a combination of points won by the Aeros, and points lost by Omaha. Although the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights are in fourth place in the West, they own just the fifth-best points percentage, making them the key team when figuring a magic number. Omaha can reach 103 points by winning its remaining 24 games.
The Aeros’ .718 points percentage is now second-best in the AHL, ahead of Grand Rapids (.711) and trailing only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (.745), which is 4-5-0-1 in its last 10 games.
Houston’s 38 victories are just two behind last season’s total, with 25 games remaining. The Aeros are on pace for 115 points - six behind the 1998-99 franchise-record, which was set in an 82-game season.
In their last nine victories, the Aeros have outscored their opponents 21-6 in the first period. In the last 20 games overall, Houston has a 34-15 goal margin in the opening 20 minutes, and overall on the season the Aeros are an AHL-best plus-30 (69-39). No team has scored more or allowed fewer first-period goals. Houston has trailed after one period just once in its last 15 games.
Houston is 16-5-1-2 in one-goal games and an impressive 23-8-1-2 in games decided by two goals or less. Houston has seen eight of its last nine games be decided by one or two goals, going 5-2-0-1.
Houston is 9-1-1-0 when allowing 40 or more shots.
The Aeros have scored 80 power play goals while allowing just 52. Their plus-28 differential is the best in the AHL.
Paul DiPietro, who played for the Aeros in the 1995-96 season, scored both goals as Switzerland stunned Team Canada 2-0 in Olympic round robin action Saturday. DiPietro, who was born in Ontario but played the last six seasons in Switzerland, helped Martin Gerber (49 saves) stave off the Canadians. The Swiss, which upset the Czech Republic 3-2 Thursday, hasn’t won an Olympic medal since 1948 and hasn’t won a medal in any major tournament since the 1953 World Championship.
Aeros sweep the week
HOU 6, CLE 4; HOU 4, IOW 1; HOU 4, IOW 3
Houston won each of its three games last week - all on the road. The Aeros (38-14-1-2) have 79 points - two ahead of second-place Milwaukee. Houston has one game in hand on the Admirals, and right now would win the tiebreaker based on more wins.
Wednesday: Ryan Stokes snapped a tie with 7:21 left in regulation, fellow rookie Patrick O’Sullivan scored twice and Kirby Law and Roman Voloshenko each added a goal and two assists, leading the Houston Aeros back from a two-goal deficit for a 6-4 victory over the Cleveland Barons at Quicken Loans Arena. Josh Harding made 38 saves in his return from a 13-game injury absence, Erik Westrum also scored and Curtis Murphy added three assists for Houston.
Friday: AHL leading scorer Erik Westrum scored two goals, his nearest competition Kirby Law tallied a goal and two assists to set a new career-high with 76 points, and leading rookie scorer Patrick O’Sullivan netted a goal and an assist, as the Houston Aeros shook off a one-goal deficit for a 4-1 victory over the Iowa Stars at Wells Fargo Arena. Josh Harding outdueled former teammate Mike Smith with 34 saves and helped kill off five third-period shorthanded chances for Houston.
Saturday: Josh Olson, Bill Kinkel and Kirby Law each scored in the game’s opening 3:58, Curtis Murphy became Houston’s all-time leading goal scorer among defensemen and Seamus Kotyk made a season-high 45 saves, as the Aeros held off the Iowa Stars 4-3 at Wells Fargo Arena. Law added an assist to get within one point of teammate Erik Westrum for the AHL scoring lead and top rookie scorer Patrick O’Sullivan chipped in two helpers as Houston finished off its five-game road trip with three straight wins.
Aeros’ Practice schedule:
Monday - 1-2 p.m., Sugar Land
Tuesday - 10-11:30 a.m., Sugar Land
Wednesday - 10-11:30 a.m., Sugar Land
Thursday - 10-11, pre-game skate, vs. IOW 7:05 p.m.
Friday - Travel Day
Saturday - at MIL, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday - at IOW, 2 p.m.
Aeros non game-day practices are at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, the Official Training Facility of the Houston Aeros.
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