The Aeros flamed out to end January, playing dispirited hockey that saw them drop out of the playoff race. Luckily, February arrived and the Aeros have rediscovered the joys of winning. Since February 1, the Aeros are 4-1-0-1 and have won three of the first four games of their current six-game road trip.
Friday saw the Aeros defeat the Rockford IceHogs for the second time in a week, this time by a 6-1 score. And more impressive than the size of the victory was the Aeros scoring five of the goals on the power play. That’s right; the Aeros scored five goals on the power play Friday night. This from the same team that on some nights in January looked to be lucky to get just five shots total on a game’s worth of power plays.
Friday’s offensive heroes were Erik Reitz with three assists, Cal Clutterbuck with a goal and an assist, Steve Kelly with two assists, and Brandon Rogers with two assists. Along with Clutterbuck, goals were scored by Adrian Foster, Peter Olvecky, Ryan Hamilton, Joel Ward, and John Scott – yes, you read that right, John Scott got his second goal of the season – and his second goal in two games. Also shocking is the news that Scott, the 6’8” defenseman, has been playing one of the wing positions.
The defensive star of the game was Anton Khudobin who started in goal for the first time this season. Khudobin, brought up from Beaumont because of the injury to Barry Brust, got his first ever AHL win.
The game was delayed for 35 minutes between the first and second periods because the Rockford arena zamboni damaged the ice.
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The Aeros streak of good luck did not last, however, as the team lost 1-0 to the Toronto Marlies yesterday. Nolan Schaefer stopped 27 of 28 shots, but none of the Aeros 33 shots could get into the net.
The Aeros record for the season is now 26-19-2-3 with 57 points. They are 4-1-0-1 for the month of February with three wins on this current road trip. The Aeros play at Peoria tomorrow night then close out the trip in Chicago against the Wolves on Wednesday night. They will return to Houston this weekend for Friday and Sunday games against the Iowa Stars.
Khudobin was sent back to Beaumont on Saturday as Barry Brust returned from his injury.
The team is back in fifth place in the ultra-competitive West Division, only one point in front of Milwaukee and Quad City. – John Royal