SAN ANTONIO, Texas
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 for the Aeros, who play their home opener at 7:35 p.m. Saturday versus Cincinnati. The first 4,000 fans receive commemorative Opening Night pucks. Join the Aeros at The Bus 2 at the corner of La Branch and Bell at 3 p.m. for the Aeros and Astros in October Party, featuring Chilly, Sonic Boom, Strike Force and Slapshot.
San Antonio scored on its first good chance of the game, 5:51 into the contest. Greg Campbell tried to steer a puck from behind the net into the slot, and it went off Harding to a waiting Krajicek, who tapped the puck over the netminder.
Kreps made it 2-0 with 2:43 left in the opening period, as he backpedaled and fired a failed clearing attempt toward the net from the blue line. The puck went off Hardings glove and into the cage.
Koivu got the Aeros within 2-1 with his first North American goal 8:46 into the second. Erik Reitz sent a headman pass to Matt Foy, who streaked into the zone on the left wing. Foy left a pass for Koivu between the circles, and the 2002 No. 6 overall pick snapped it quickly short side past DesRochers. The 21-year-old Koivu is ranked the Wilds No. 1 prospect, according to The Hockey News.
DesRochers kept the game tied with an amazing save with 5:13 left in the second. Stephane Veilleux skated in 3-on-1 and let go of a wrister from the left circle, and the netminder snagged it as it neared the goal. Harding equaled his opponent several seconds later, robbing a wide-open Petr Taticek from the left doorstep.
On the power play with 13 minutes left in the game, the Aeros had a great chance for a third-period tying goal, as Patrick Traverse ripped the rebound of a Brent Burns rocket from the point just wide.
San Antonios Burke Henry was called for tripping with 54.7 ticks left, giving the Aeros a 6-on-4 chance in the waning seconds with Harding pulled. Off the ensuing faceoff, Burns attempt from the point was knocked down in front, and DesRochers covered up the rebound in traffic. Law was then robbed from the left doorstep after a great pass from Koivu with 10 seconds on the clock.
Houston finished 0-for-4 on the power play, while San Antonio went 0-for-1.
At 20, Harding became the youngest Aeros goalie to ever appear in a regular-season game.
The Aeros lost in regulation to the Rampage only once in 12 tries last season (7-1-2-2).
Houston was unbeaten in regulation in its last seven trips to SBC Center (3-0-2-2).
The Aeros had won all three season openers since entering the American Hockey League in 2001. They fell to 4-4-3 all-time in season openers.
Houston scratched Kyle Kettles, Chris Heid, Mark Cullen, Marc Cavosie, Todd Reirden and Christoph Brandner.
Foy had six of his 24 points last season in 11 games versus the Rampage.
San Antonio improved to 2-1-0-0 in its three home and season openers.
The Rampage skated with five first-round picks, and the Aeros had three.
Houston plays four of its next five games at home before going on the road for 13 of 15 games.
Tonight's boxscore can be found here