The Houston Aeros came into this weekend in a tie for second place. They leave the weekend in fourth place. And though they were able to win one of three games played, the team didn't look good at anytime and, at one point, after Friday night's 6-1 loss to the Rockford IceHogs, Aeros coach Kevin Constantine was reduced to calling his team quitters.
That the Aeros lost two of three games this weekend isn't surprising in that all three games were against teams the Aeros are competing with for playoff spots. What was surprising was the team's god-awful play, especially in Friday night's home loss.
The Aeros were tied 1-1 with the IceHogs as the third period started on Friday night. Within seven seconds, they were down 2-1. By the time the game had not so mercifully ended, the Aeros had lost 6-1 while losing goalie Barry Brust, who had come in to relieve starter Nolan Schaefer during the disastrous third period, to a foot injury that will have him missing an unspecified amount of time.
The Aeros were able to come from behind and defeat the Quad City Flames in the Quad Cities on Saturday night, getting the 3-2 shootout victory thanks to Marco Rosa's two regulation goals and one goal in the shootout. Schaefer recovered from his poor game on Friday night and played spectacularly to lead the Aeros to the win.
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But then the Aeros decided to play like crap on Sunday night as they went up against the division leading Milwaukee Admirals in Milwaukee. The Aeros were able to jump off to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period, but then fell apart to lose 3-2. The Aeros ended up being so inept on Sunday night that they only recorded one shot on goal in the third period. Emergency call-up goalie Anton Khudobin was able to stop 35 of the 38 Milwaukee shots, but the inability of the offense to do anything with the puck doomed the team to defeat.
I wasn't with the team in the Quad Cities or in Milwaukee, so I don't know what coach Kevin Constantine was saying afterwards. I do know that on Friday night he spoke of his team being quitters and of just going through the motions.
I can't say for sure that the team quit on Friday night - I'll leave that to Constantine. But the team displayed no hustle and just seemed to be going through the motions. As for the rest of the weekend games, they reflected standard Aeros tendencies. The team plays great when playing with the urgency that results from coming from behind, and the team can't hold early leads.
The Houston Aeros have 19 games left in the regular season to get their act together, and they give it another try on Thursday night when they take on the Grand Rapid Griffins at Toyota Center. At this point, the Aeros sit in fourth place with a record of 29-23-3-8 (67 points), and they're only two points behind second/third place Rockford and Chicago (both with 69 points). Only the top four teams in each division make the playoffs, and besides playing for a higher playoff spot, they've got to make sure and hold off Iowa and Peoria which are close behind in fifth and sixth place.