Krys Kolanos chases the puck on Friday night. (Photo by Fred Trask)
There’s a kind of electricity that goes through Toyota Center when Houston Aeros forward Krys Kolanos gets his stick on a puck. It’s an electricity that wasn’t around the team last season, because it’s an electricity that arises from a belief, from a faith, from a kind of knowledge that whenever Kolanos gets the puck, he is going to score.
Kolanos has played in seven of Houston’s ten games – he was up with the Minnesota Wild for two games and missed the other due to illness – and he has scored in six of those seven games. He leads the team with seven goals, and is second on the team with eight points. And often this season he has teamed with fellow newcomers Jesse Schultz (who has six points) and Corey Locke (who has nine points) and with returning Aeros Marco Rosa (nine points) and Peter Olvecky (six points) to help turn the Aeros into a team that no longer needs to play a perfect game to win.
None of the Aeros games this weekend were perfect, though they could well have come away with two wins instead of just one. Kolanos, with a goal and an assist, and Corey Locke, with two assists, helped to power the Aeros to a 4-2 victory over the Providence Bruins on Friday night. And Kolanos contributed the team’s first goal in their 4-3 loss to the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins on Sunday.
“There’s an additional level of skill here, and that makes everybody good,” Constantine said after Friday’s victory. And that additional level is Kolanos who, from the press box, just appears to think he can score every time he has the puck.
But the Aeros, who had been a perfect 5-0-0-0 in Houston through Sunday, finally faced a team that could match-up with them, as the Penguins scored three goals in the second period and held on as the Aeros got two goals within 17 seconds of each other in the third period to tie the game. The Penguins called the timeout, then proceeded to score coming out of the timeout.
“We thought momentum was on our side,” said Marco Rosa, whose goal tied the game. “We put two shifts together and got two goals. They got one right away, and we just couldn’t recover after that.”
Coach Kevin Constantine called the loss frustrating, especially the team’s inability to stop Wilkes-Barre left wing Chris Minard, who scored three of the Penguins four goals for the hat trick.
“A little bit of that is my fault,” he said. “I should have just found players to play against those guys rather than letting our team style try to work against them.”
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
Friday’s contest between the Aeros and the Providence Bruins featured a match-up between Providence forward Peter Schaefer and his younger brother, Houston goalie Nolan Schaefer. This was the first time they had ever played against each other in a game. Peter Schaefer has spent most of his hockey career in the NHL, and prior to Friday night, he had played in only one game this season due to a hip injury.
“I was kind hoping that he would get one on me, actually,” Nolan Schaefer said after Friday’s game. “He doesn’t deserve to be here. And he’s had a tough go. He’s just a great guy. I’m sure he’ll get back up to the NHL. He’s just got to get 100 percent healthy.”
Nolan came out on top, however, as he stopped both of his brother’s shots.
There was a portion of Friday’s game that Constantine felt was the best he’s ever seen his team play. “I think tonight, there was a stretch in the second period where we went end-to-end and got lots of scoring chances, and did some things, that I thought maybe was the best five to ten minute stretch of just really good plays, really good offensive plays that I’ve ever seen in my coaching here.”
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After this weekend, the Aeros are 6-4-0-0 (12 points) and they are tied for third place in the West Division. After ten games last season, the Aeros were 3-6-0-1 (seven points).
The Aeros started the season 5-0-0-0 at home, and they had a seven-game home-winning streak dating back to last season before Sunday’s loss. This was the first time in their history that the Aeros ever started the season with five straight home wins, and the seven-game streak was one short of the team’s all-time record of eight straight wins set in the 1998-99 season.
The Aeros are now going on a five-game road trip before returning home to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, November 16 at 4:05. – John Royal