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Aeros Keep On Keeping On, Beat the Rampage

Momentum is a fickle thing. One moment you have it; the next, it’s gone. There were two moments in the Aeros game last night, two moments when momentum could’ve turned to either team.

And the Aeros got the momentum both times.

The Aeros defeated the San Antonio Rampage by a 5-1 score last night. The Aeros had the lead at each of the two moments. But if the Rampage could have turned things at these two moments, the game might have turned out differently.

Moment Number One came at 19:59 in the second period and the Aeros holding onto a 2-1 lead. Suddenly, somehow, center Marco Rosa was alone, wide open, with the puck. Suddenly, somehow, Rosa’s shot was past San Antonio goalie David LeNevue and into the net. Suddenly, somehow, with just one second remaining in period two, the Aeros were up 3-1. And what was a tight game now was a game with some level of comfort for the Aeros.

Moment Number Two came at roughly the 15:00 mark of the third period. The Aeros were still up 3-1. Still riding on the momentum of Rosa’s second period ending goal. San Antonio right wing Bill Thomas took a shot. A shot that appeared to get past Aeros goalie Nolan Schaefer for a goal. A goal that would have made the score 3-2. A goal that could have shifted momentum to the Rampage. Instead, no call was made. There was no goal, and the puck which was rolling on the ice was suddenly in the possession of the Aeros. And while the Rampage were arguing with the ref, Aeros left wing Peter Olvecky was breaking free to score.

And suddenly, just like that, instead of the gap being closed to 3-2, it was widened and the Aeros were up 4-1.

As to the non-existent goal, Nolan Schaefer would state after the game, “It’s hard for me to tell what happened. The guy just took a shot and I guess they thought it went in. It’s hard for me to see behind me. That was a big momentum shifter.”

As to his momentum shifter, center Marco Rosa weighed in that “going into the third with a lead is huge. Especially a two-goal lead. We definitely carried the momentum in the third period.”

The Aeros win moved the team’s record to 7-8-1-0 on the season.

Miscellaneous Game Notes:

The Aeros continued to struggle on the power play. Despite the Aeros first goal coming from Ryan Hamilton’s third goal of the season, the Aeros would fail on seven other power plays, making the team 10 for 105 on the power play for the season.

On the plus side, the Aeros penalty kill numbers improved again as the Aeros killed all seven of San Antonio’s power play attempts.

“I think special teams are really momentum swing times in a game,” Coach Constantine said after the game. “Your power play can be as much a negative swing for you emotionally as it can win you a hockey game. On the other hand if you kill a three on five, or get a key, key block on a penalty kill, it can be emotionally uplifting, too. So, that was tonight. I thought our penalty kill energized us.”

Goalie Nolan Schaefer also had good things to say about the Aeros penalty kill abilities: “Our guys played great on the penalty kill…we’re getting good at it…It shows our guys are committed.”

The stat of the season for the Aeros involves the number three. Specifically, on games where the Aeros score three goals or more, the Aeros are now 6-0-1. If the Aeros get less than three goals, their record is 1-8-0.

I want to send a little note to the Toyota Center video board guys. Shawn Belle’s name is spelled S-H-A-W-N B-E-L-L-E. Not S-E-A-N B-E-L-L. During the second period, a multiple choice trivia quiz was run. The names of four Aeros were listed. Unless he’s a guy no longer with the team, Sean Bell does not exist. I’m thinking they meant Shawn Belle.

The press table was packed with NHL scouts last night, and one of the scouts provides today’s quote of the day: “If you’re going to be a good scout,” he shouted to a comrade. “You’re going to have to see everything.” Of course, he wasn’t talking about the play on the ice, but instead, was talking about this incredible-looking blonde walking down the aisle.

Coach Constantine is a fan of Marco Rosa: “I think he brings within his personality an enthusiasm to the team. He’s excited about practice. He’s excited about learning. He’s excited about being here. He’s excited about being a teammate. And that personality goes out onto the ice.”

Constantine also likes how Rosa plays offense: “He shoots it more willingly than some of our guys. There are times to shoot, and times not to, and he doesn’t pass up many shots. We didn’t have to teach that to him.”

As to his play, Rosa said after the game, “I just want to keep my game simple and shoot the puck when I can. And make plays when I can. If anything, I just want to be smart out there. Sometimes you come up and you’re working a little too hard and nothing’s happening. I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing instead of working hard and doing the wrong thing.”

The Aeros continue to be plagued by injuries. Defenseman Clayton Stoner is out for several weeks due to injury. Cal Clutterbuck, Benoit Pouliot, and Serge Payer are all still dealing with injuries.

Coach Constantine says that there can be a positive to all of these injuries: “The good part is we’re finding out a lot about other people.” He added, “If you can survive this injury stuff, you actually more about your team.”

Left wing Peter Olvecky and right wing Petr Kalus continued with their hot play. Kalus scored his third goal of the season in the second period and Olvecky scored off of the missed San Antonio goal in the third. Olvecky now has seven points (4 goals and 3 assists) for his last five games.

Right wing Joel Ward was in on the action, assisting on Kalus’s goal and getting an empty-net goal at 18:14 of the third period to put the Aeros up 5-1. As to the team’s improved play, Ward said after the game, “We’re starting to come into our own a little bit.”

Also having multi-point game last night was Steve Kelly with two assists.

The Aeros out shot the Rampage 25-20. The Aeros are now 41-14-6-3 all-time against San Antonio, including a record of 26-4-2-0 at Toyota Center. The Aeros have now outscored the Rampage 129-67 in 32 games in Houston.

Defenseman Erik Reitz still leads the Aeros with 14 points, and he is tied for third in scoring among AHL defensemen.

Announced attendance last night was 3,785. And unlike some of the Tuesday night games this season when it appears that attendance has been inflated, that number appeared to be pretty accurate.

The Aeros host the Milwaukee Admirals for two games this weekend, including a 7:35 contest on Friday night and a 4:05 game on Sunday afternoon. – John Royal

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