Matt Kassian takes on a player from the Iowa Chops on Tuesday night. (Photo by Fred Trask)
When last we wrote about the Houston Aeros, they were 4-0-0-0 on the season for the second-best start in team history. Since that time, they lost three games in Canada over the weekend while defeating the Iowa Chops 3-1 on Tuesday night at Toyota Center to go 5-3-0-0 on the season.
Two of the three losses were rather strange in that the team got three goals on Saturday night and four goals on Sunday, yet lost. Last season’s team would nail down just about any game in which they scored three or more goals. But the defense and goaltending have just not been there for the team this season.
“One huge difference – it’s always a difference – is goaltending,” coach Kevin Constantine said after Tuesday night’s victory. Goaltender Nolan Schaefer “is fantastic. And our goalies were, you know, just okay the last two games before this. We gave up five in Manitoba and five in Toronto. You’re just not going to win” when that many goals are surrendered.
They had the goaltending on Tuesday with Schaefer giving up just one first period goal on a Chops power play. “I take my hat off to Schaef,” Constantine said. “He made some just phenomenal saves. Especially in the first period because they really came after us.”
All of the Aeros goals on Tuesday night came off of the power play, which is rather strange considering that it took the Aeros three months to get three power plays goals last season – okay, I exaggerate a bit.
Constantine is happy with his offense, he just hopes “we can learn to play defense in front of those goals the way we did last year.”
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The Aeros have been playing without three of their key offensive skill players as Corey Locke (seven points on three goals and four assists) has been out with a groin injury, Ryan Hamilton (five points on three goals and two assists) has been out with an upper body injury, and Krys Kolanos (five points on five goals) has been ill. But Constantine hopes to have them back for this weekend’s games.
Currently, the offense is being led by Marco Rosa who leads the team with eight points (three goals and five assists) with Morten Madsen, John Lammers, Peter Olvecky, and Jesse Schultz bunched behind – each having six points. The surprise of the season has been Morten Madsen who looks like a different player than the Madsen who was in Houston last season.
“He was extremely committed to training this summer,” Constantine said about Madsen. “He’ll play the game fifteen pounds heavier than he did a year ago, and that’s…brought confidence to him.”
The Aeros play the Providence Bruins at 7:35 tomorrow night. Since it is Halloween, fans are invited to wear costumes. And for the Sunday 4:05 game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Aeros will be giving away John McCain and Barack Obama bobbleheads. – John Royal