From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Friday, April 13, 2007
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Stars 6, Aeros 2 Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas –
Former Aero Junior Lessard tallied two goals and two assists, Francis Wathier scored twice and Dan Ellis made 23 saves, as Iowa clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth with a 6-2 victory over Houston in front of 10,384 at Toyota Center. Chris Conner and Scott May added a goal apiece for Iowa (42-33-3-1), which will open up post-season play as the No. 4 seed out of the West Division. The Stars went 5-0-0-0 at Toyota Center this season – joining the 2003-04 Milwaukee Admirals as the only teams to sweep a season series of three or more games at Toyota Center.
Erik Reitz and Peter Olvecky each scored a goal and Tony Quesada stopped 31 shots for Houston (26-42-4-6), which has scored five goals in its last four games – all with Quesada in net.
Houston travels to San Antonio on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game before playing its home and season finale Sunday at Toyota Center versus the Rampage at 5:05 p.m. Call 713.974.PUCK on Saturday and Sunday to order tickets and be entered into a special drawing for items such as autographed Aeros memorabilia and Cirque du Soleil tickets.
Conner gave Iowa a 1-0 lead with his 19th goal, just 3:11 into the game, on the power play after Houston’s Benoit Pouliot was called for roughing. Mark Ardelan sprung the speedy winger up the right wing side, and the former Michigan Tech standout ripped a nifty shot over Quesada’s shoulder.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Conner nearly made it 2-0 when he got loose for a breakaway. He beat Quesada five hole but slid the puck just wide.
Houston’s Joel Ward nearly tied it up 6:30 in, on the power play, but Ellis made a nice save on Ward’s low slot deflection off a Curtis Murphy shot.
Lessard’s team-best 26th goal of the season – his fourth point in the last two nights – extended Iowa’s lead to 2-0 with 5:42 left in the first. Mark Fistric kept the puck in at the center point and fired on net, and Lessard deflected it by Quesada.
Ellis made his best save 3:16 into the second, when Murphy redirected a Ward pass while cutting down the slot. Ellis stayed with the deflection and made the glove save.
Quesada was brilliant on an Iowa power play past the midway point, stopping three would-be goals, including a great left circle shot from Conner.
Houston was on the power play for more than five minutes late in the second. Ellis stoned Murphy off a back-door cut from the left circle, but on the play Fistric was called for cross-checking Ward and also an unsportsmanlike penalty. It was a 5-on-3 right after Fistric’s penalty, and Reitz’ bomb from the center point made it 2-1 with 3:20 left. The tally was Reitz’ career-best ninth of the season, and it left the Aeros with 3:44 more of a man advantage.
Ward nearly tied the game on the same power play, tipping a Mike Madill blast just wide. Ellis also kicked out another Reitz center point bullet. Mattias Weinhandl also ripped a shot off Ellis’ mask and up into the protective netting.
The Aeros began the third on the power play but couldn’t score, and Wathier’s 13th goal made it 3-1 just 46 seconds into the final period. Fistric, in the left corner, centered a feed for Wathier at the doorstep, and he tapped it by Quesada.
Iowa’s Greg Rallo hit the post on a shorthanded attempt 4:15 into the third.
Midway through the third, Houston’s Jason Morgan was ejected for an elbowing major on Wathier. On the ensuing power play, Ryan Stokes tangled with Paul Szczechura, with Stokes landing four straight rights to finish the rookie off along the boards.
The Aeros killed off both that five-minute major and the 5-on-3, and Olvecky scored with 4:40 left, snapping a right circle shot under Ellis to get Houston within 3-2 with his 11th goal of the season.
Houston then had two goals waved off in the next 32 seconds. The second goal appeared to cross the line on a shot from Aaron Voros, with a crush of bodies heading towards the net. Referee Steve Kozari was calling a delayed penalty on Iowa, but also gave Voros a five-minute major for charging to negate the goal. Lessard roofed a rebound early on for a 4-2 lead with 3:37 left during the ensuing power play.
Wathier and May scored on the same power play to finish the scoring.
Houston went 1-for-7 on the power play, while Iowa finished 4-for-10. Notes:
Not dressing for the Aeros were Dieter Kochan, Roman Voloshenko, Chris Ovington and Clayton Stoner.
Rookie defensemen Madill and Paul Albers were reassigned to ECHL Texas after the game. The Wildcatters are in Gwinnett on Saturday for Game 1 of the South Division Semifinals.
Reitz’ goal snapped a string of 20 straight power play chances without a tally for the Aeros.
Houston has lost four in a row at home for the first time since January 2-12, 2001. It’s one off the team record of five, set December 5-22, 1995.
The Aeros haven’t outshot any of their last 15 opponents. Iowa has outshot the Aeros in seven of the teams’ last eight meetings.