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Aeros finish up exhausting stretch; play final 3-in-3 this week
Week in review: GR 3, HOU 1; HOU 4, GR 1; MIL 4, HOU 2; CHI 6, HOU 3; UTA 4, HOU 1
Houston went 1-4-0-0 last week, finishing off an exhausting stretch that saw the team play seven times in five cities over 10 days. The finale of that stretch, against last-place Utah, resulted in a 4-1 loss in a game that saw the Aeros arrive in Salt Lake City less than two hours prior to faceoff.
Houston dominated the final 58 minutes Sunday against the Grizzlies, but two early goals by Trevor Daley in the opening 1:27 of the game were too much to overcome. Jason Bacashihua helped Utahs cause, turning aside 35 shots and helping keep the Aeros at bay during a 5-on-3 for more than 3 1/2 minutes.
Stephane Veilleux scored for Houston against the Grizzlies.
Saturday, Steve Maltais notched a hat trick and Michael Garnett posted 34 saves, as the Chicago Wolves beat the Aeros 6-3 at Allstate Arena in the final meeting between the teams this season.
Travis Roche, Jeff Hoggan and Christoph Brandner scored and Kyle Kettles, making his first appearance in three weeks, turned aside 22-of-28 shots for Houston.
Friday, Greg Classen scored twice and Brian Finley finished with 35 saves, as the Milwaukee Admirals beat the Aeros 4-2 at Toyota Center.
Erik Reitz and Mika Hannula each scored and Johan Holmqvist posted 23 saves for Houston.
The highlight of the week was Chronicle in Education Day Wednesday, in front of 5,119 fans, mostly schoolchildren.
Kevin Mitchell, former Griffin Chris Bala and Zbynek Michalek scored on the power play in a team-record 1:49 late in the first period and Rickard Wallin returned after a 17-game injury absence to assist on the trio of goals in a 4-1 win over Grand Rapids. The Aeros avenged a 3-1 loss to the Griffins on Monday.
THU, HOU at MIL, 7:00 p.m.
The Aeros look to snap their franchise-record eight-game road winless streak (0-7-1-0). Houston has one win in its last 16 road games (1-11-4-0) and is winless in seven straight games against the Admirals (0-6-0-1), having not beaten them since Opening Night. This will be Houstons last trip to the Bradley Center this season to face the Admirals, who enter the week with 69 points and in second place in the West.
FRI, HOU at SAN, 7:00 p.m., Internet only
The Aeros and Rampage enter this week neck-and-neck for a spot in the playoffs, and their six remaining meetings will decide their fate. San Antonio will be returning home following a 12-game road trip. Houston is 2-1-2-1 against the Rampage this season. Each of the three meetings at SBC Center this season and four straight dating back to 2002-03 have gone into overtime. The last two games in San Antonio have both ended in a 1-1 tie.
SAT, HOU vs. SAN, 7:00 p.m.
Hockey Puck Bottle Openers
The Aeros play host to San Antonio in the back end of the home-and-home set. San Antonios 6-3 win in Houston January 16 was just its second in nine attempts in the Bayou City. Also Saturday, 300 organ donor recipients and supporters will be at the game. An information booth will be available on the concourse, as will organ donor cards. The event is sponsored by LifeGift and Heart Exchange.
Puck Pals Party is Sunday Chillys next Puck Pals Party is this Sunday from 2-4 p.m. at Krogers on 4825 Sweetwater Blvd. in Sugar Land. Jeff Hoggan and Mark Cullen will be attending the event signing autographs. General Mills will be there supplying healthy snacks. Chilly, Strike Force and Slapshot will all be at Krogers for the party.
Records meant to be broken, but so soon? January 30 in Manitoba, Darby Hendrickson, Christoph Brandner and Mika Hannula scored three goals in a span of 1:51, bettering the six-year-old team record by eight seconds. The trios mark lasted for only 19 days, as Kevin Mitchell, Chris Bala and Zbynek Michalek tallied 1:49 apart Wednesday against Grand Rapids. What made that feat so remarkable was the fact that all three Aeros goals came on the same power play, after the Griffins Kory Karlander was called for a five-minute high-sticking major. Rickard Wallin assisted on all three goals.
McLellan sitting at 148 pro wins Houston head coach Todd McLellan is two wins shy of 150 in his pro career, after joining current Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett as the only coaches in team history with 100 victories December 26. McLellan is 148-110-34-11 in 3 ½ seasons as a head coach, counting his time with IHL Cleveland in 2000-01. He has gone 105-78-27-11 in his 2 ½-season reign with the Aeros. McLellan picked up his 100th victory in his 192nd game with the team, just five more games than it took Tippett to reach the plateau. McLellan coached his 200th game with the Aeros January 9.
Breaking down the playoffs The fifth-place Aeros enter this week with 51 points, one behind Cincinnati and three ahead of San Antonio in the West. The top five teams in the West make the playoffs, with the fourth- and fifth-place team playing a three-game qualifying series at the higher seed. Cincinnati has six games in hand on the Aeros and San Antonio has seven. However, the Aeros have nine games left combined against those two teams, including six against the Rampage, to help decide their own fate. The Aeros have the most advantageous schedule they have just six games left against teams with a better than .500 record. Cincinnati, meanwhile, still has 15 road games left and also 17 against teams at the .500 mark of above. Threatening to make a run is Utah, which has won four of six to move within six points of the Aeros. The Grizzlies also have five games in hand on Houston.
Cincinnati 52 points (25 games left, 10H, 15R); CHI (2H/2R), MIL (0H/2R), PHI (0H/2R), CLE (4H/3R), UTA (1H/2R), GR (0H/2R), SA (0H/2R), HOU (1H/2R)
Houston 51 points (19 games left, 11H, 8R); GR (3H/0R), MIL (1H/1R), UTA (2H/0R), SA (3H/3R), CIN (2H/1R), WOR (0H/1R), NOR (0H/2R)
San Antonio 48 points (26 games left, 13H, 13R); CLE (0H/1R), MIL (2H/2R), HOU (3H/3R), CHI (1H/4R), GR (3H/1R), UTA (2H/2R), CIN (2H/0R)
Easy on the back-to-backs When playing either their second or third straight games this season, the Aeros have five wins in 23 games (5-12-5-1). Houston is 4-9-3-1 when playing the second of two straight games, while it is 1-3-2-0 when finishing off the third game in three nights. Fortunately for the Aeros, they have just one more three-in-three left, this coming Thursday-Saturday.
Scoring early important - The Aeros are 0-21-1-2 when trailing after one period, the lone AHL team without a victory in such a situation. Houston is also winless when trailing after two (0-24-5-1), joining Binghamton, Milwaukee and Portland as the only winless teams in that situation. Houston has also allowed the games first goal in four straight games.
League leaders update - Aeros defenseman Travis Roche is tied for eighth among AHL blueliners with 30 points (6+24=30) in only 47 games. Winger Derek Boogaards 174 penalty minutes trail only Syracuses Brandon Sugdens 218 for the lead among AHL rookies. Johan Holmqvist leads the league in minutes (2882) and is second in saves (1191).
Player of the week LW Stephane Veilleux -
Veilleux increased his team-leading point total to a career-best 37 points (13+24=37) with points in the final four games last week...Posted assists in three straight games, Wednesday against Grand Rapids, Friday versus Milwaukee and Saturday in Chicago...Scored 13th goal of season, tying career high, in 4-1 loss at Utah on Sunday...Veilleuxs four-game point streak is two shy of his season- and career-best, and he has points in 10 of 12 games and 12 of 15...Four shorthanded goals are tied for the AHL lead.
Veilleux this week...
2/16 vs. GR 0-0-0, -1
2/18 vs. GR 0-1-1, +1
2/20 vs. MIL 0-1-1, -2
2/21 at CHI 0-1-1, E
2/22 at UTA 1-0-1, -3
Totals - 5gp, 1-3-4, -5
Aeros Practice schedule:
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - 10-11, Sugar Land
Thursday - Travel, at MIL 7 p.m.
Friday - Travel, at SAN 7 p.m.
Saturday - vs. SAN 7 p.m.
Sunday - Off