I sometimes think those of us in the sports biz go with the metaphor too quickly, too often, and too lazily. But damn it, if the Zamboni breaking down on the ice between the first and second period isn’t the perfect metaphor for describing last night’s game with the Quad City Flames, then I just don’t know when a metaphor will ever be appropriate.
The Aeros worked hard in the first period, but they didn’t work efficiently, and they didn’t score. They came out for the second period and they were dead, with goalie Barry Brust surrendering a goal just 1:26 into the period. Ten minutes later, Quad City knocked the puck past Brust once again, and though the score was just 2-0, the Aeros were sputtering and backfiring and stalling just as badly as the dead Zamboni.
The Zamboni returned to life for the break between the second and third periods. And after falling behind 3-0 at 9:30 into the third, the Aeros, too, returned to life. Center Marco Rosa scored at 12:13 to make the score 3-1, but Quad City was able to get an empty-net goal at 12:41 after Kevin Constantine pulled Barry Brust for the extra skater. Left wing Peter Olvecky scored a power play goal at 15:52 to make the score 4-2, but try as they might, and despite out-shooting the Flames 19-3 in the third, the Aeros just couldn’t get the puck back into the net.
Coach Constantine wasn’t too pleased his guys: an “annoying thing for me is that we won the third [period]. It’s like annoying. All that means is that you lost because you didn’t start well.”
Constantine stressed the importance of starting strong last week. But the team just can’t seem to pull it off.
“We’re trying to throw everything we can at them, but sometimes it’s too late,” Marco Rosa said after the game. “We just can’t wait to the last minute to have a flurry of shots like that.”
Center Serge Payer agreed with Constantine and Rosa: “We’ve got to be better off our starts and match their intensity.”
The 3,199 fans in attendance would probably agree as well. But frankly, I’d be just as happy if they kept the damn Zamboni running properly.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
The Aeros record dropped to 35-23-2-3 (75 points), but the team is still tenuously holding onto the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. A fact of which the players are acutely aware: “It’s been like that for the past month now,” Rosa said. “We’re fighting for our lives. It’s game by game right now. We’ve got to focus on every game like it’s our last game.”
The Aeros season-long failure with the power play continued last night as the team went one for seven chances, including zero for three in the first period. Worse than the zero for three in the first was that they only got off a total of two shots for all three of those power plays.
“It’s hard to start a game and go on a power play three times and not score. That was really really critical,” Constantine said.
And Payer’s also aware of the power outage on the power play, as is everyone on the team: “Right now we know it’s not good and we know we’ve got to improve it. We’ve got to keep practicing it, and hopefully we can execute,” he said. “Sooner or later.”
Rosa thinks the team’s trying too hard and thinking too much: “Even though we had good energy, we just didn’t keep it simple when we needed to,” he said. “It’s a tough one to lose, especially when everyone’s working hard. But sometimes you have to work smart, too. And at times, we didn’t.”
The Aeros are 1-5 for their last six West Division games. Unfortunately, their next eight games are with their West Division opponents.
The start of the second period was delayed nearly 20 minutes when one of the Zambonies broke down on the ice. It was towed from the ice, but was back in working condition for the intermission between the second and third periods.
The Lady Dynamics had the night off last night – and I would like to know why. However, they were actually in street clothes, and in attendance, and the camera guy knew just where to find the lovely young ladies sitting in the stands, which was very good because they danced from their seats during the Zamboni time out.
Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and the Aeros decided to celebrate by breaking out some new St. Patrick’s jerseys. There was one problem, or rather, two. The Aeros have made several roster moves in the past week, and the sweaters had already been ordered and according to the PR staff, there wasn’t time to get jerseys with new numbers. So John Adams and Ross Carlson had the privilege of wearing the jerseys originally meant for injured players Maxim Noreau and Morten Madsen – the numbers were the same but the names on the sweaters were changed.
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Being that it was St. Patrick’s Day, the Aeros went an Irish music thing during the night. That was okay when the music was U2, but not so okay when they trotted out bagpipe-sounding music that sounded like riffs on “Danny Boy.” To me, “Danny Boy” makes The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” sound like an uplifting party song.
If you’re going to trot out Irish music, how about The Cranberries. “Zombie” would’ve sounded good last night, especially at the start of the game when the crowd was deader than the Astros playoff chances. And one more music suggestion: if you really want to get the crowd in the right mood before dropping the puck, how about going with Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up.” That should get the crowd going. When there is a crowd.
I think last night’s announced crowd of 3,199 was a bit inflated. Which leads me to ask: the Aeros are generally an exciting team, engaged in a fast violent sport, and they’re fighting for a playoff spot. So where in the hell are you people? You better not be at that damn rodeo.
The Aeros return to action Wednesday night at Toyota Center in a return engagement with the Quad City Flames. And the really fun time comes Thursday night when the Aeros host their fifth annual Miss Aeros bikini contest between the periods. The action both nights is set to start at 7:05. – John Royal