Photo by Fred Trask
In many ways, the Aeros had a very good week last week. They won two of three games by rather convincing margins. They lost another game, 2-1, in the shootout, and improved their record to 13-10-1-3 (30 points).
The week started with the Aeros 2-1 shootout loss on Wednesday night to the Rochester Americans, one of the worst teams in the AHL. The Americans took the early lead, but the Aeros came back to tie and goalie Barry Brust put on an incredible display to keep the Aeros in the game.
Then came the shootout in which Brust faced three shots and let all three shots into the net, making for the third straight shootout in which Brust has been beaten badly. "I don't know," a dejected Brust said after that loss. "I have no answers for you."
Coach Kevin Constantine stressed just how good Brust has been in regulation, and just how good he's been the entire season, but then said that he and his coaches have been contemplating going to Brust's teammate, Nolan Schaefer, to handle the goalie duties in the shootout, saying, "We talked about it and considered it after the last one. We'll consider it stronger now, just for Barry's sake."
Things were much better on Thursday night as the Aeros took on their division rival Quad City Flames. The Aeros burst out to the early 3-0 lead and held on for the 4-1 win. Brust got the start, and was bombarded by shots during the game, but excelled once again during regulation play.
Saturday's game with the Hershey Bears had the Aeros matching up with the best team in the AHL. It started with the ice being bombarded with teddy bears after Krys Kolanos' first period goal (the teddy bear toss was a charity thing; the bears were gathered and will be given poor children) then came a memorable second period in which during a 6:01 stretch the Aeros scored five goals on five shots to take the 6-1 lead, which would end up being the final score.
The week once again had the team talking of having turned a corner. "We've seen little signs of life. We've tried to start sailing a little bit," Constantine said after Saturday night's win. "Our next challenge now is to start winning road games."
That's a challenge that starts now as the Aeros have four games on the road before returning to Toyota Center on December 26 to take on the San Antonio Rampage. As for the Saturday night win, Corey Locke sees that as a gift to the fans. "This was our last game at home for a little while...so we wanted to leave on a good note."
And leave on a good note they did.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
Saturday night was not the first time the Aeros have scored five goals in one period. The last time that happened was on December 26, 2002, against the San Antonio Rampage. The Aeros, however, have never scored more than five goals in a period.
My three stars of the week for the Aeros:
Barry Brust, shootout aside, stopped nearly every shot he faced, allowing only three regulation goals in three games.
Corey Locke has been on a points rampage the past week-and-a-half, and has ten points on five goals and five assists for his last five games, including four multiple-point games.
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And Krys Kolanos would be my number one. It's becoming clearer to me that the Aeros are clearly a better team when he is on the roster and not up with the Minnesota Wild - that's totally selfish on my part because I also want the guys here to be called up to Minnesota and to never return because that means they're playing good enough to stay in the NHL. In his last seven games with the Aeros, Kolanos has 11 points, including four goals and seven assists. He scored the first two goals of Saturday's game, and he set up another goal on Saturday with a beautiful pass to a streaking Locke who got the goal.
"I think we've been really pressing that issue awhile," Kolanos said Saturday night about the scoring. "It's good [for the team] to finally break out. We've been on the verge a while now. The club needed that."
But for the people in the crowd, the star of the week was undoubtedly defenseman John Scott, whose first period goal on Thursday night won the fans in attendance free wings from Bayou City Wings.
-- John Royal