Fans, it's not too late to buy your opening night tickets!
. The Aeros take on the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at 7:35 p.m. today, and the first 4,000 fans will receive a commemorative Opening Night Puck. Houston Mayor Bill White will drop the ceremonial puck.
The festivities start downtown at 3 p.m. with the "Aeros and Astros in October Party" at The Bus 2 at the corner of Bell and La Branch. Join the Aeros, Chilly, Sonic Boom and Strike Force as they cheer on the Astros in the NLCS, then head across the street to Toyota Center for the home opener. Drink and food specials are featured at the party. The Toyota Tundra garage will open today at 2 p.m.
to listen to Ken Double's broadcast of tonight's game. Real Player is needed to listen. You can download it for free here
From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Saturday, October 16, 2004
713.361.7930 (Direct Line)
Houston Aeros (0-1-0-0) vs. Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (2-0-0-0), 7:35 p.m.
Five things you need to know
Last night marked the Aeros first season-opening loss as a member of the American Hockey League. Houston had won three straight lidlifters, including a 5-1 rout in Milwaukee last season.
Houston and Cincinnati met in last seasons West Division Qualifying Round, with the Ducks sweeping the two-game series at Toyota Center.
Only once in franchise history have the Aeros lost two games in regulation to begin the season - 1995.
Last night, 20-year-old Josh Harding became the youngest Opening Night goaltender in Aeros history. Harding, at 20 years and 119 days, also became the youngest goalie to ever appear in a game for the Aeros. Current Philadelphia Flyer Robert Esche was 20 years and 260 days when he debuted on October 9, 1999, in Cleveland.
The Aeros and Ducks went to overtime in three of their final five regular-season meetings in 2003-04.
Ducks at Aeros (Aeros lead series 7-4-4-1 all-time, Aeros are 4-1-3-0 at Houston)
The Aeros went 2-3-3-0 in the 2003-04 regular season against Cincinnati, and the Ducks swept the Aeros in two games in Houston in the West Division Qualifying Round.
Houston is winless in the last five regular-season meetings (0-2-3) and seven straight (0-4-3) counting the 2004 post-season. The Aeros last beat the Ducks December 20, 2003, a 3-1 decision in Cincinnati.
The Aeros are winless in the last three regular-season home meetings (0-1-2) and five straight (0-3-2) counting the post-season, after going unbeaten in the first five (4-0-1). Houston last beat the Ducks at home December 5, 2003, a 3-1 victory.
The teams have played six overtime games in 18 chances, including in three of the final five games in 2003-04. Houston is 1-1-4 in overtime versus Cincinnati, including a 1-1-1 mark on the road and an 0-0-3 home mark.
After tonight, the Aeros dont play the Mighty Ducks again until February 25 in Cincinnati, and the Ducks dont make another trip to Houston until March 14.
2004-05 meetings (First of 6 meetings, Aeros are 0-0-0-0 overall, Aeros are 0-0-0-0 at home)
TONIGHT: Cincinnati at Houston
February 25: Houston at Cincinnati
February 26: Houston at Cincinnati
March 14: Cincinnati at Houston
March 30: Cincinnati at Houston
April 8: Houston at Cincinnati
Struggling with home openers
Houston, which dropped a 5-2 decision last season to Cleveland in its home opener, is 3-4-3 all-time in its home lidlifter.
The Aeros are 1-3-1 in their last five home openers, with the lone win coming in the 2002-03 campaign, 3-1 over Utah.
Houston is 1-2-0 in home openers since joining the American Hockey League.
The Mighty Ducks are the 11th different opponent in the Aeros 11 home openers.
Scouting the Aeros
The Aeros return eight of their top 11 scorers from a year ago, including leading point-getter Kyle Wanvig (25-16=41)...Talented newcomers include a trio of first-round draft picks - 2004 World Cup player Mikko Koivu, Brent Burns and Pierre-Marc Bouchard...Also new is rookie netminder Josh Harding, and several Dallas Stars prospects, including Hobey Baker winner Junior Lessard and goalie Mike Smith.
Scouting the Ducks
Cincinnati is 2-0-0-0 after two straight wins 4-3 in Utah to begin the season...The Ducks are stockpiled with young talent, including 2002 No. 7 overall pick Joffrey Lupul, who has a team-best four points, including a three-point effort Wednesday...Lupul played 75 games with Anaheim last season, compiling 34 points (13-21=34)...In net, Cincinnati is in good hands with Russias World Cup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has gone 2-0-0 with a 2.88 gaa to begin the season.
Lukas Krajicek and Kamil Kreps scored first-period goals and Patrick DesRochers made 25 saves, and the San Antonio Rampage held on for a frantic 2-1 victory over the Houston Aeros at SBC Center in the American Hockey League season opener for both teams...Mikko Koivu tallied his first North American goal and Josh Harding turned aside 23 shots in his pro debut for the Aeros.
The Aeros and Rampage split four games, with Houston winning the series five points to four thanks to a 5-4 overtime loss last Saturday in San Antonio...Pierre-Marc Bouchard led Houston with five points, all assists.
The Aeros take to the road Wednesday for their first of 10 meetings with Chicago and former Aeros Travis Roche and Cory Larose.
Following the game in Chicago, the Aeros play three games at home in three nights October 22-24 for just the second time in franchise history before playing 13 of 15 games on the road. Houston also played three-in-three at home from December 7-9, 2001, going 1-1 versus Hartford and 1-0 against Manitoba.
How the Aeros were built
The Aeros have a franchise record three first-round picks, plus five second-rounders and four third rounders. Kyle Wanvig was drafted twice, once in the second round by Boston and again in the third by Minnesota. All but four of Houstons players were drafted.
Five Aeros have their NHL rights owned by the Dallas Stars - Mike Smith, Junior Lessard, Patrick Traverse, Marius Holtet and John Erskine.
Houston has 15 players from Canada on its Opening Night roster, five from the United States and one each from the Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Austria. Marius Holtet, a second-round pick by Dallas, is the highest drafted Norwegian player in NHL history.
Aeros have trio of first-round picks for first time ever
The Aeros have three first-round draft picks (Mikko Koivu, Brent Burns and Pierre-Marc Bouchard) on their roster at one time for the first time in their 11-year history.
Overall, Houston has now had 14 No. 1 picks wear its uniform. Two skated last season - Burns and Jason Marshall.
Koivu, selected sixth overall by Minnesota in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, is the fourth highest draft pick ever to play for Houston. Only Sylvain Turgeon (No. 2, 1983), Neil Brady (No. 3, 1986) and Zarley Zalapski (No. 4, 1986) were higher picks.
Burns and Bouchard are two of Minnesotas three first-round picks who played in the NHL the season immediately after being drafted. Burns, 19, was already the youngest player in Aeros history, as he played one game last season at the age of 18.
Harding is second-highest goalie draft pick to play for Houston
Not only is Josh Harding the Aeros youngest goalie in franchise history, but hes also the second highest drafted netminder to play for the team. Harding was picked by the Wild 38th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Only Troy Gamble (No. 25, 1985) was a higher pick.
Aeros have 11 who played in NHL in 2003-04
Eleven Aeros played a total of 250 games in the NHL in 2003-04, and including Patrick Traverse, who has 278 games of NHL experience but none last season, 12 Aeros have 884 games of NHL experience.
Another two Aeros - Mike Smith and Erik Reitz - were recalled to Dallas and Minnesota, respectively, last season but didnt see action in a game.
A new era
The AHL has instituted a shootout if the score is still tied after a five-minute overtime period. The Aeros last played a shootout game 4/13/01, a 3-2 win at Utah.
Aeros were winless in OT in 2003-04
The Aeros went 0-4-14 in overtime in 2003-04 after going second in the league in OT wins in 2002-03 with eight. Houstons last overtime win came in San Antonio 3/20/03, when Hnat Domenichelli scored 12 seconds into the extra session for a 5-4 victory.
Rookies no more
In 2003-04, 14 Aeros who played in at least one game were classified as rookies. Only four rookies begin the season with Houston in 2004-05 - Junior Lessard, Marius Holtet, Josh Harding and Kyle Kettles. Kettles is still classified as a rookie since he played less than 25 games with Houston last season.
Houston's Kyle Wanvig and Cincinnati's Joel Stepp each played for WHL Red Deer in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, and they helped the Rebels to a Memorial Cup title.
Aeros president Tom Garrity served as senior vice president (1999-2001) and later as president (2001-03) in Cincinnati.
Houston's Mikko Koivu spent three seasons playing alongside Cincinnati's Michael Holmqvist with TPS Turku.
Cincinnati's Chris Kunitz and Houston's Josh Harding and Derek Boogaard all grew up in Regina, Sask.
Houston's Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Cincinnati's Pierre Parenteau were teammates for two seasons with QMJHL Chicoutimi. They were the top two scorers (Bouchard, 140 points; Parenteau, 118) for the Sagueneens in 2001-02.
Cincinnati defenseman Tim Wedderburn played for AHL Utah last season, alongside Houston's Mike Smith and for five games, John Erskine.
Houston defenseman Todd Reirden played 97 games for the Mighty Ducks in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, totaling 31 points (10-21=31).