Houston Aeros (0-0) vs.
Peoria Rivermen (0-0), 7:35 p.m.
Game 1, West Division Semifinal
Printable Game Notes
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Houston is in the post-season for the 11th time in its 12 seasons after recording its third 50-win season in team history. The Aeros finished 50-24-3-3 - the fifth-best record in the AHL - while Peoria was 46-26-3-5 - one of 10 AHL teams to reach 100 points this season. The teams play a best-of-seven West Division Semifinals series. The Aeros are 8-5 all-time in seven-game playoff series.
Tonight marks Houston’s 14th Game 1 in a seven-game series. The Aeros have won 11 of the previous 13 Game 1’s, although they dropped a 4-1 decision in Chicago last season. Prior to the best-of-three 2004 qualifying round series against Cincinnati, Houston had won nine straight overall Game 1’s. In best -of-sevens, the Aeros are 7-4 in series when winning Game 1, and 1-1 when losing Game 1. Last season, the Game 1 winner went on to win just five-of-eight division semifinal series. Overall in the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs, Game 1 winners went 14-6.
Twelve Aeros have played a total of 190 Calder Cup Playoffs games, led by D Curtis Murphy (59) and RW Kirby Law (40). Just five have season action in the post-season with the Aeros, including Murphy (37) and D Erik Reitz (13), each members of the Aeros’ 2003 Calder Cup championship team. Murphy also owns a 2004 Calder Cup with Milwaukee, and a 2001 IHL Turner Cup with Orlando. D Scott Ferguson has played in 11 Stanley Cup Playoffs games, the lone Aero to see action in the NHL post-season. Ferguson was a Calder Cup Finalist in 1997, when his Hamilton Bulldogs lost to Hershey.
Aeros RW Kirby Law became just the 95th player in the 70-year history of the American Hockey League to post 100 points in a season, finishing with a new Aeros team record of 110 (43-67=110). Law and C Erik Westrum (34-64=98) became the first teammates to finish 1-2 in the league’s scoring race in 20 seasons. Rochester’s Paul Gardner (112) and Jody Gage (99) did it in 1985-86. Law and Westrum were voted First Team All-AHL along with D Curtis Murphy. Law posted the biggest margin over a second-place finisher since the 1999-2000 season, when Christian Matte (104) beat Mike Maneluk (87) by 17 points. Law put up the second-highest point total since 1997-98. Only Jason Spezza (117) had more, for Binghamton in his 2004-05 Most Valuable Player season.
Houston LW Patrick O’Sullivan was the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award winner as the AHL’s most outstanding rookie. O’Sullivan totaled 47 goals, breaking Jeff Christian’s 1998-99 team record total of 45. O’Sullivan owns rookie team records in all major offensive categories, and he paced all AHL rookies in goals (47) and points (93), while ranking third overall in the league in goals and fourth in points. Since 11/9, O’Sullivan has racked up 86 points (44-42=86) in just 64 games. Only one AHL rookie since 1990-91 has more goals than O’Sullivan - Patrick Lebeau with 50 in 1990-91. O’Sullivan tied for the most points by an AHL rookie since the 1994-95 season. Darcy Tucker also tallied 93, in 1995-96. O’Sullivan, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Winston-Salem, N.C., was Minnesota’s second-round pick (No. 56 overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft.
Aeros D Curtis Murphy has won 13 of the last 14 post-seasons season in North America in which he has participated. The lone loss was with the Aeros in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, a five-game loss to Chicago.
The Aeros have lost six of seven post-season games since winning the Calder Cup in 2003, including all five games at Toyota Center. Houston’s one victory in the last two post-seasons was a 2-1, overtime victory in Game 2 of the 2005 West Division Semifinals in Chicago. C Mikko Koivu scored the game-winner.
Aeros.com will also have updates throughout the game.
Aeros Game Day
Seven things you need to know
Rivermen at Aeros (Aeros are 9-8-1-0 all-time in regular season, Aeros are 6-2-1-0 at Houston)
Counting Peoria’s time as the Worcester IceCats, the teams have played 18 regular season meetings.
Houston won the first four home meetings this season by a combined 22-6 margin, before Peoria earned a 3-1 victory 4/2.
Peoria outshot Houston in eight of the 10 regular-season meetings this season.
The team scoring first won nine of the 10 games this season. Houston’s 5-3 victory 12/16 was the lone time a team allowed the first goal and won.
Houston is 0-for-32 on the power play in the last five meetings and hasn’t scored on 34 opportunities dating back to LW Roman Voloshenko’s first-period goal 1/21. Peoria and Omaha were the lone two AHL teams to outscore Houston on the power play in head-to-head meetings this season.
2005-06 meetings (Aeros went 6-4-0-0 overall, Aeros went 4-1-0-0 at Houston)
October 14 Houston 3 at Peoria 1
October 30 Houston 0 at Peoria 4
December 16 Peoria 3 at Houston 5
December 17 Peoria 2 at Houston 7
January 21 Peoria 1 at Houston 5
January 24 Houston 0 at Peoria 3
January 27 Houston 2 at Peoria 1
March 27 Houston 2 at Peoria 8
April 1 Peoria 0 at Houston 5
April 2 Peoria 3 at Houston 1
Scouting the Aeros
The Aeros (50-24-3-3) finished second in the West Division with 106 points...RW Kirby Law paced the AHL in scoring with a team-record 110 points (43-67=110), 12 points up on Aeros C Erik Westrum (34-64=98) for the top spot in the AHL...LW Patrick O’Sullivan finished first among rookies and fifth overall with 93 points (47-46=93)...LW Roman Voloshenko (33-27=60) was third in goals among rookies and tied for ninth in points...D Curtis Murphy finished second among AHL defensemen with a new career-best 67 points (14-53=67)...G Josh Harding went 29-8-0 with a 2.68 gaa with the Aeros this season, ranking fourth in the league in wins and tied for first in save pct. (.922) despite missing nearly three months due to call-ups and injuries...G Seamus Kotyk went 15-15-2 with a 3.03 gaa.
Scouting the Rivermen
Peoria (46-26-3-5), AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, finished third in the West Division with 100 points...Eighteen Rivermen players also skated for the Blues this season...RW Jon DiSalvatore paced the Rivermen with 67 points (22-45=67)...RW Mike Glumac ranked second with 57 points (25-32=57), but in just 49 games due to call-ups...D Mike Mottau was the third leading scorer and tied for sixth among AHL defensemen with 56 points (8-48=56)...G Chris Beckford-Tseu went 6-5-1 with a 3.01 gaa during the regular season, while G Gregg Naumenko was 3-1-1 with a 1.94 gaa with the Rivermen and 10-7-1 with a 2.86 gaa in 22 games with four teams...Peoria used seven goalies this season.
The Aeros have been outscored 30-17 in the third period over their last 21 games, and have allowed two OT goals and have lost in a shootout in that span. They are just 8-10-2-1 in that stretch. Houston finished the regular season minus-four (93-89) in the final 20 minutes.
The Aeros are 2-3-2-1 in their last eight one-goal games. Houston is still an eye-popping 23-8-3-3 in such contests, and an impressive 31-14-3-3 in games decided by two goals or less. Gearing up for what promises to be a very tight Calder Cup Playoffs, Houston has seen 25 of its last 32 games be decided by one or two goals, going 13-8-2-2.
In their last 19 victories, the Aeros have outscored their opponents 35-14 in the first period. In the last 44 games overall, Houston has a 55-35 goal margin in the opening 20 minutes, and on the season the Aeros were an AHL-best plus-31 (89-58). The Aeros are 30-7-1-1 when leading after one period this season.
The Aeros have won three of their last four victories in come-from-behind fashion. Houston has trailed at some point in 22 of its 50 victories, with seven of the wins coming when trailing by two goals. The Aeros had 16 come-from-behind victories in 2004-05. They are an impressive 18-15-1-0 when allowing the game’s first goal.
Houston is 15-6-2-0 when allowing 29 or fewer shots this season, but also an impressive 10-2-1-0 when yielding 40 or more.
The Aeros are 48-7-0-2 when scoring three goals or more, but they are 2-17-3-1 when scoring two or fewer. Three is also the magic number defensively, as Houston is 40-6-3-1 when allowing three of fewer goals and 10-18-0-2 when yielding four or more.
Aeros veteran D Curtis Murphy didn’t have a two-goal game in the first 75 contests of 2005-06, but he has a pair of two-goal, one-assist efforts in the last five games. Murphy, who finished second in the league in scoring among defenseman with a career-best 67 points (14-53=67), had been held without a goal in 17 straight games before he scored twice 4/9 against San Antonio. Since early March, Murphy has raised helped raise $2,600 for “Murphy’s Mission”, benefiting “I Have a Dream”. In post-season home games, an anonymous local donor is giving $1,000 per Murphy goal and $200 per assist to the cause. A Murphy hat trick at home will net $10,000, and a Calder Cup title will give $10,000 in honor of the entire Aeros team to “I Have a Dream”.
The Watson Family Foundation has announced three charity-driven programs for the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs: “Saves: Saving Lives”, “All-Stars for All-Stars” and “Rookies for Ronald”. “Saves: Saving Lives” will benefit Boys & Girls Country. The Watsons will make a donation of $10 for every save made by an Aeros goalie in the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs. “All-Stars for All-Stars” will aid After School All Stars. The Watsons will give $50 per goal and $50 per assist garnered by each of the Aeros three First Team All-Stars – Kirby Law, Erik Westrum and Curtis Murphy. The assist donation is provided the player assists on a fellow All-Stars goal. Ronald McDonald House Houston is the beneficiary for “Rookies for Ronald”. Ronald McDonald House will receive $50 per goal scored by a rookie, or an assist on another rookie’s goal, in the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Power play update
Houston finished the regular season tied second third in the league, with Peoria and Milwaukee, on the power play at 20.0 percent.
Houston is 9-for-84 (10.7 percent) with the man advantage in the last 14 games, although the Aeros have scored a PPG in five straight games for the first time since a 15-game run 2/11-3/17.
The Aeros are 25-8-0-1 when scoring at least two PPG.
Peoria tied for fourth in the AHL on the penalty kill at 84.9 percent.
The Rivermen have killed of 16-of-19 (84.2 percent) of their shorthanded chances in the last five games.
Houston went 7-for-57 (12.3 percent) on the power play against Peoria..
Penalty kill update
Houston tied for eighth in the AHL on the penalty kill in the regular season at 83.4 percent.
The Aeros have allowed 30 PPG on 122 chances in the last 18 games for just a 75.4 percent PK rate, and they allowed a season-high-tying five PPG 3/28 in Peoria.
Houston is 25-6-1-3 when not allowing a power play goal and 39-12-3-2 when allowing one power play goal or fewer.
Peoria tied for second in the AHL, with Houston and Milwaukee, on the power play at 20.0 percent.
The Rivermen are 0-for-14 on the man advantage in the last three games.
Peoria went 12-for-59 (20.3 percent) on the power play against Houston. The Rivermen had 11 players score their 12 PPG in the series.
Peoria C Brendan Brooks and D Brendan Buckley teamed with Aeros assistant coach Matt Shaw, then Quad Cities’ head coach, to win the UHL’s regular-season title with the Mallards in the 1999-2000 season. Buckley was Aeros LW Greg Mauldin’s teammate in Syracuse in 2003-04.
Houston LW Joey Tetarenko and Peoria D Rocky Thompson spent much of the 2000-01 season together at AHL Louisville.
Aeros G Seamus Kotyk spent the 2003-04 season in Cleveland along with Peoria RW Jon DiSalvatore.
Aeros rookie F Danny Irmen and Peoria rookie F David Backes played two seasons of junior hockey together with USHL Lincoln.