Aeros Defeat Rockford and Quad City

The Houston Aeros are taking today off after back-to-back games.

The Aeros defeated the Rockford IceHogs, in Rockford, on Tuesday by a 3-1 score. Left wing Peter Olvecky scored the game's first goal to put the Aeros up 1-0 in the second and right wings Joel Ward and Cal Clutterbuck scored the two for the Aeros in the third period. Goalie Barry Brust got the victory, but was injured.

The injury occurred in the second period, but Brust had to gut it out as Nolan Schaefer had been called up to the Minnesota Wild to back-up the Wild's number one goalie, Niklas Backstrom, due the illness of Backstrom’s normal back-up, Josh Harding.

Schaefer returned to the Aeros last night and helped lead the team to a 3-2 shoot-out victory over the Quad City Flames in Moline. Center Morton Madsen, recalled from Beaumont's Texas Wildcatters on Monday, scored the game's first goal, and defenseman John Scott got his first goal of the season for the Aero's second. Madsen, left wing Benoit Pouliot, and center Marco Rosa netted goals for the Aeros in the shoot-out.

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Both of the Aeros’ goals last night occurred on the power play, which is a quite a shocking thing when you consider that not only is the Aeros power play one of the worst in the AHL, but that Quad City's penalty kill was the second best in the AHL.

The Aeros return to Rockford tomorrow night to once again take on the IceHogs.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

Goalie Anton Khubodin was recalled from the Wildcatters to back-up Schaefer while Brust recuperatees from a groin injury. Also recalled from Beaumont was center Troy Riddle.

Center Steve Kelly is not currently with the team. His wife Cheralyn gave birth to the couple's third child at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, a boy named Bennett Steven. They have two daughters, Avery, age five, and Adyson, age 21 months.

The Aeros have scored a power play goal in each of their last three games.

The Aeros are now 11-10-1-1 on the road this season. They are 19-5-0-2 when they score on the power play, and they are 21-3-1-2 when they score the game's first goal.

The Aeros’ record improved to 25-18-2-3 with last night's victory. The team is now in sole possession of fifth place in the West Division.

AND FOR SOME MISCELLANEOUS HOCKEY DISCUSSION:

Now, Aeros aside, here's an item that may be of interest to you puckheads out there.

According to the Quad City Times, the AHL is considering going to a 72-game schedule next season. AHL teams currently play 80 games per season.

The hope for the reduced schedule is that it would prevent having to schedule games on nights that are hard to draw fans -- for the Aeros, this would be midweek games which barely break the 2,000 fan mark as opposed to the weekend games which often reach the 7,000-8,000 attendance mark. The NHL also favors the move in that it would save wear-and-tear on their prospects. The NHL wants its youngsters playing and learning the game, but they also want the kids fresh and ready to play if the need should come for one of them to go to the big club during the regular season -- as Aeros goalie Nolan Schaefer has done many times this season. There is also the hope that this would cut down on the back-to-back-to-back games, as well those killer trips like the Aeros had in December and January.

In some ways, I like this idea, in that the hockey season is too long. For instance, the NHL started preseason play in September with the regular season starting the first of October. The Stanley Cup will be decided by mid-June. So that means that the hockey season lasts ten months, which is too long. The AHL starts in October and the playoffs will also possibly stretch into June.

Baseball, in contrast, with its 162-game regular season schedule, starts up in mid-February with Spring Training and ends around Halloween with the World Series. There are nearly four months of non-play. The NBA starts training camp in October and the finals are in June. It, too, has nearly four months off. And football camps pick up in July and the season ends at the very start of February with the Super Bowl, leaving it with over five months off.

Call me a supporter of the 72-game AHL season. Maybe the NHL will either find a way to shorten its season too. Yes, hockey is one of the more physically demanding of the sports, and the hitting is harder, and with less padding, than the NFL, but it just seems that it could find a way to play 82 games in a more compact scheduling format.

But maybe that's just me. – John Royal

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