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Aeros Get Ready for the Rampage

The San Antonio Rampage will be in Houston for two games with the Aeros this weekend, tonight and Saturday. The Aeros are in the Western Conference playoff mix, and one of the teams they’re battling is the Rampage. But for the Aeros to stay competitive, they are going to have to prevent a repeat of last week’s lost weekend .

They’re going to have to execute their offense. They need to make passes. They can’t keep depending on Nolan Schaefer and Barry Brust to bail them out on the defensive end. But first and foremost, they’re going to have to do something about the power play.

It’s easy to say that new players are needed, players who are offensive threats on the power play, but Coach Kevin Constantine doesn’t think that way. “I don’t spend very much time thinking about things I don’t control,” he said after Sunday’s loss to Hamilton. “If you want to get hockey players, that’s Tom Lynn’s (Aeros GM) job, not mine. Now do I worry about, hey, how do we look on it, or what are our guys doing on it, yeah.”

And when it comes to the power play for the past month – for most of the season – the Aeros haven’t looked very good.

Listening to Constantine, one gets the impression that the Aeros’ ills on the power play, and on offense, can be cured by proper execution and hard work. For their part, the players seem to agree, at least to the overall offensive problems.

Center and alternate team captain Steve Kelly said last Sunday that for the first part of the game, the Aeros were just going through the motions, and rookie right wing Cal Clutterbuck said that the team played without emotion. “We’ve got to look in the mirror here,” said Clutterbuck, “and just put a solid 60 minutes together.”

“We didn’t work as hard as we should at all. Not even close,” he said. “We’re going to go back to the drawing board.”

And Kelly said, “I just don’t think we’re creating enough out there. Teams are starting to know how we play, and they’re anticipating our dumps and stuff. And we’re not recovering the pucks enough to create the offense. We’ve got to start controlling a little bit more, and making some plays into the zone. And at the end. It was just the intensity we didn’t have during the game.”

“If we can come back and redeem ourselves” against San Antonio, Kelly said, “then things change. That’s a good part about the game. Forget about it now and move onto the next one.”

Both of this weekend’s games will start at 7:35 p.m., and Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports Houston.

And just a reminder: the Aeros announced last week that Serge Payer and Nolan Schaefer have set up performance-based programs and are asking for pledges to benefit their respective foundations dealing with Lyme disease and Gullian-Barre Syndrome. Nolan Schaefer’s wife was diagnosed as suffering from Lyme disease in early 2007.

The program will start on February 1, and will run through April 9 of this year. For anyone who is interested in pledging to one of the programs, forms can be found here. -- John Royal

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