Official Box Score DES MOINES, Iowa –
Chris Conner snapped a tie with a breakaway goal midway through the third period, former Aero Junior Lessard added an empty-netter and Dan Ellis made 29 saves, as the Iowa Stars remained perfect on the season with a 3-1 victory over Houston at Wells Fargo Arena. Mark Ardelan added a 5-on-3 goal for Iowa (3-0-0-0), which played its home opener. The Stars host the Aeros again on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Wyatt Smith (pictured) scored a power play goal and Josh Harding
made 24 stops for Houston, which is 0-3-0-0 for just the second time in team history. The Aeros, who have been outscored 8-1 in the second and third periods this season, began a five-game road trip tonight.
With the help of four power plays, the Aeros held an 12-1 shot advantage through the first 10 minutes. But the teams ended the first period tied at 1-1.
Aeros rookie Ben Thomson nearly got Houston on the board three minutes in, with Houston on the power play. Peter Ratchuk ripped a shot wide from the point. It caromed off the boards to Thomson in the low left circle, but Ellis dove back over to cover the puck.
At the end of that power play, Ellis stood his ground on Ryan Hamilton’s backhanded breakaway attempt.
Houston then got 58 seconds of a 5-on-3. The Aeros didn’t score on the two-man advantage, but less than 10 seconds after the first penalty was over, Smith scored his first goal as an Aero. Matt Foy collected a loose puck behind the net and slid a pass to Smith in the low slot, and the veteran centerman popped the puck by Ellis.
The Stars got their turn at a two-man advantage, this time for a full minute, with 8:27 left in the first.
The second penalty overlapped with another one on Houston, which then surrendered a 5-on-3 goal – Iowa’s sixth power play goal of the season. Former Aero Marty Wilford, at the left point, found Ardelan at the right point, and the defenseman’s shot through traffic eluded Harding for his second goal of the season.
The pace of play slowed down considerably in the second period, with five power plays – four to the Stars.
The Aeros had their best chance with 4:50 left in the second, when Danny Irmen deflected a pass just over the crossbar.
Two late penalties were called against Houston, which has a 53-second span of 5-on-3 time to kill spanning the second and third periods. Harding rescued the Aeros by kicking a Marty Sertich rebound attempt just wide of the post.
Early in the third, Smith just missed after a nifty drop pass from Joel Ward. Smith, in the right circle, went for the far post, but Ellis just got a piece of the attempt with his right pad.
With the teams 4-on-4, Conner gave Iowa its first lead of the night with 10:20 remaining. Joel Lundqvist picked up a loose puck and sprung Conner for a long breakaway. The Michigan Tech product went forehand to backhand, sliding a low shot under Harding for his first goal of the season.
The Aeros continued to press to try and comeback, but Foy was called for roughing after a collision at center ice with 7:50 remaining.
Houston pulled Harding for the extra attacker, and Smith couldn’t find the net from close range. Lessard tacked on the empty-netter on the other end with 44 seconds left, just before Aeros rookie Benoit Pouliot tussled with the former Aero.
Pouliot picked up an extra minor on the play for cross checking, and Ryan Stokes also was given a penalty in the closing seconds, leading to the Stars’ fourth 5-on-3 of the game. Chris Ovington, Houston’s rookie defenseman, then duked it out with Krys Barch. Aeros alternate captain Jason Morgan picked up a 10-minute misconduct at the same time.
Houston finished 1-for-9 on the power play, while Iowa went 1-for-11. The Aeros are 2-for-31 with the man advantage this season. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Tony Quesada, John Scott, Alex Leavitt, Josh Olson, Joey Tetarenko and Clayton Stoner. There have been just three 5-on-5 goals in Houston’s first three games – two by the Aeros and one by an opponent. Houston has scored first in each of its last two games. The Aeros have been tied after one period in each of their first three games.