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Houston Aeros: A Very Ugly Game

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The Houston Aeros marketing slogan for this year is “Get To Know The Game.” If you were one of the 3,556 in attendance at Toyota Center last night, the Aeros 4-0 loss to the Rockford IceHogs was not the type of game that you actually want to get to know.

The game was ugly. Capital U, capital G, capital L, capital Y UGLY.

In some ways, this game was inevitable. The Aeros had won seven straight games to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race. Starting goalie Barry Brust had been in the net for all seven games, and he had won three of those games by way of shutout. So, while it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t altogether unexpected when Brust allowed two goals within the first 6:57 of the game. Two goals on four shots.

And with that, Brust was on the bench and backup Anton Khudobin was on the ice. But it was too late.

Amazingly, the Aeros actually outshot the IceHogs. But Rockford goalie Wade Flaherty was on top of his game. “I think he played really good,” Aeros coach Kevin Constantine said after the game. “He did a really good job for them.”

But Constantine wasn’t willing to give Flaherty all of the credit: “It wasn’t our best night either,” he said. “We just played like a team tonight that after winning for awhile had a little look like it will all work out.”

The Aeros never got their act together. Khudobin allowed two goals in the second period to make the score 4-0. And while the Aeros showed some signs of life in the third, they could never get the puck into the net. SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

The 4-0 loss last night was the sixth time this season the Aeros have been shutout. This was also the second time this season that Rockford has shutout the Aeros.

The IceHogs second goal was on a power play. This was the first time since a February 13 game against the Chicago Wolves that the Aeros allowed a power play goal. Before this, the Aeros had killed 47 straight power plays, and had gone 10 games without allowing a power play goal.

The Aeros record is now 34-23-2-3 (73 points) and is just barely good enough for the fifth spot in the West Division. They’re still eligible for the playoffs however, in that, for the moment, their record is better than that of the fourth place in the North Division.

Constantine tried to shake things up by pulling Khudobin with nearly five minutes left in the second period and going with the open goal and six skaters. “It’s hard to come back ever in the third period when you’re losing,” Constantine said. “We were just trying to find a way to make it at least a 3-1 game….It was just a risk we were willing to take.”

The Aeros and IceHogs meet again Saturday night at 7:35 at Toyota Center. Also at the game will be the Hanson Brothers of Slap Shot fame. And if the Hanson brothers don’t offer up enough sex appeal, the Aeros will be hosting the Ms. Aeros bikini contest between periods of next Thursday’s game with the Chicago Wolves.

--John Royal

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