With only 22 games left in the season, the Houston Aeros are caught in a dogfight. A dogfight for a spot in the AHL playoffs. And after last night’s 1-0 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters, the Aeros are now in a tie for that last spot.
Barry Brust got his second shut-out of the season, and his second shut-out in the row as the Aeros won their fourth straight game. Joel Ward scored the game’s lone goal midway through the second period. This was the third time this season the Aeros have had to back-to-back shutout victories. And their record after 58 games is now 31-22-2-3.
But here’s the information that you’re probably most interested in, and I apologize because I have probably misinformed you about it in past postings. Because while in the AHL, eight teams from each conference make the playoffs, it’s only four teams from each division, not the eight teams with the best records. However, if the fifth place team in the West Division (the Aeros division) finishes with more points than the fourth place team in the North Division, then that team moves over to the North division for the purpose of the playoff brackets.
At this point, the Aeros are tied for fourth place in the West Division with the Milwaukee Admirals, both teams with 67 points. The good news is, if the season ended today, the Aeros would be in the playoffs as they have more points than the fourth place team in the North Division.
The Aeros don’t play again until next Tuesday when they take on the Providence Bruins at Toyota Center. Since all of the teams are grouped so tightly, it’s quite possible that the Aeros will have dropped back down to sixth or seventh place in the West. The other bad news is that the Aeros now have four days off between games, and this season, with that much time off, the team has not been good. SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:
The Aeros have allowed the second fewest goals in the AHL this season. That speaks not only to the outstanding play of goalies Nolan Schaefer, Barry Brust and Anton Khudobin, but also to the excellent play of the Aeros defensemen.
Speaking of the team’s defense, the Aeros have not allowed a power play goal in the past six games, having stopped 38 power play shots.
The team is 11-1-0-1 when Joel Ward gets a point.
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The team has 11 home games in March, starting Tuesday night. Nights of interest include Saturday, March 15, when the Hanson Brothers of Slap Shot fame will make a guest appearance for the game against the Rockford IceHogs. And, on Thursday, March 20, look for girls in bikinis on ice as the Aeros hold the Miss Aero contest – yes, I know I promised that before, but this time, the Aeros even have a press release about the event.
And to get you in the mood for some old time hockey, here’s a little Hanson Brother action.
-- John Royal