Aeros 5, Rivermen 3
Aeros 5, Rivermen 3; Aeros win best-of-seven series, 4-0
Official Box Score
PEORIA, Ill. – Kirby Law snapped a tie with 7:33 left in regulation and All-Star linemate Erik Westrum set up that goal and two others, as the Houston Aeros completed a four-game, West Division Semifinals sweep with a 5-3 victory over the Peoria Rivermen at Carver Arena. Patrick O’Sullivan and Matt Foy each notched a power play goal and assist, Joey Tetarenko and Bryan Lundbohm also scored and Josh Harding made 37 saves for his seventh straight win for the Aeros, who earned their second ever four-game sweep and advance to the West Division Finals against either Milwaukee or Iowa. The Admirals take a 3-1 series lead into Thursday’s game in Des Moines.
Brendan Brooks, Mike Glumac and Peter Sejna scored a goal apiece and Chris Beckford-Tseu made 16 stops for Peoria, which dropped a 6-1 decision in Game 3 on Monday.
Harding improved to 7-0-0 against the Rivermen this season, and he is 13-1-0 overall in his last 14 AHL starts and 19-2-0 in his last 21.
Tetarenko’s first goal and point in 22 career post-season contests got the Aeros on the board just 2:33 into the game. Greg Mauldin won the faceoff back to Chris Ovington at the right point. Beckford-Tseu kicked out Ovington’s blast, and Tetarenko tapped the rebound into an open cage from the left doorstep. Tetarenko scored one goal in 40 regular-season games this season – it being his first goal in 110 games, since October 2003.
Houston has scored first in each of the four games of the series. The team to score first has won 12 of the 13 meetings this season.
Brooks countered with his first of the post-season at 7:09. Harding got a piece of Mike Mottau’s drive from the point, but Brooks snuck into the deep slot and blistered a rebound over Harding’s blocker hand.
Harding kept the game tied with Peoria on the power play and 6:30 left in the first. Gavin Morgan tried to lift a rebound over a prone Harding, who just got enough of the puck with his glove to flick it wide.
Brooks almost got No. 2 two minutes later, but Harding made a shoulder save on Brooks’ slapshot from the left circle.
The teams were sent to their respective dressing rooms with 3:15 left in the first period to make repairs to glass. They played that remaining time before beginning the second period.
Peoria got 1:11 of a 5-on-3 early in the second, and on the ensuing faceoff, Mike Zigomanis hit the near post while walking in on net. The Rivermen didn’t get another shot on the two-man advantage.
The Aeros rode that momentum of O’Sullivan’s power play goal at 6:02 for a 2-1 lead. Foy, in the middle of the left circle, fed O’Sullivan cross ice in his patented right circle spot. O’Sullivan ripped a slapshot top shelf for his first of the playoffs. O’Sullivan notched a team record 47 goals during the regular season.
O’Sullivan returned the favor, assisting on Foy’s team-best fourth of the playoffs with 5:04 left in the second. With Houston again on the power play, O’Sullivan fed Westrum at the center point. The First Team AHL All-Star put a shot on net, and Foy – camped out at the right doorstep – tipped the puck up and over Beckford-Tseu.
But Peoria wasn’t done, despite getting outscored 9-2 after the second period in the first three games of the series. The Rivermen forged a tie by the midway point of the third.
Glumac got the Rivermen within a goal 5:55 into the third. Jay McClement, along the right wing boards, fed a cutting Glumac in the mid slot. Glumac ripped a shot by Harding for his first of the post-season.
Peoria got a power play with 12:22 left after a tripping call to Erik Reitz, but Harding just got a piece of Sejna’s redirection from the low left circle. But Sejna got his revenge with 10:56 remaining, evening the score at 3-3.
But Law, who scored the deciding overtime goal in Game 1, put Houston back on top with 7:33 remaining. Keeping the puck on his stick for no less than 10 seconds, Law skated into the left circle and snapped a low shot under Beckford-Tseu for his fourth of the playoffs.
Houston veteran defenseman Scott Ferguson went off for hooking with 5:18 remaining, setting up Peoria’s seventh power play. However, Harding was again unwavering. He made one of his best saves of the night on Ryan Ramsay’s deflection attempt from the deep slot.
The Rivermen pulled Beckford-Tseu for the extra attacker with 1:27 remaining, but Lundbohm won the faceoff and deposited it into the empty net for his third of the post-season.
Houston finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while Peoria went 1-for-7.