Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas –
Jason LaBarbera made 22 saves and Matt Ryan, Noah Clarke and Marty Murray scored a goal apiece, as the Manchester Monarchs held on to defeat the Houston Aeros 3-2 in front of 10,656 – the fourth-largest Aeros crowd ever at Toyota Center. Patrick O’Sullivan tallied an assist in his return to Houston for Manchester (25-12-6-1), which leads the Atlantic Division by eight points.
Roman Voloshenko scored a power play goal, Josh Olson added a shorthanded goal and Josh Harding
made 30 saves for Houston (17-20-0-5), which played the first of three home games in five nights. Milwaukee is in town Sunday for a 5:05 p.m. Family Day game, and then again Tuesday for a 7:05 p.m. Maple Leaf Pub Happy Hour Game.
Harding stopped John Zeiler on a clean breakaway 1:40 into the game after a turnover at the Manchester blueline.
Aeros defenseman Peter Ratchuk helped stop another breakaway 6:22 into the first, when Joey Mormina broke from the penalty box. Ratchuk sticked aside the headman pass.
LaBarbera made a kick save on Ratchuk’s center point blast midway through the first, and then turned away Matt Foy’s rebound attempt from the right circle.
Ryan’s fourth goal of the season put Manchester on top with 6:36 left in the first. Eric Werner fired from the right point, and the shot got deflected straight up into the air. Ryan, at the left doorstep, got cross-checked from behind but still managed to swat the airborne puck out of the air and by Harding.
Houston allowed the game’s first goal for the ninth time in 11 games.
Voloshenko deflected a point rip by Curtis Murphy just wide of the net with Houston on the power play with 5:15 remaining in the opening period.
O’Sullivan fired wide of the left post from the right circle with the teams 4-on-4 late in the first. Then with Manchester on the power play, O’Sullivan ripped a shot from the right circle, and Harding made a juggling glove save.
Clarke’s 15th goal pushed the lead to two goals, on the power play, with 14 seconds left in the opening period. Matt Moulson fired from the right circle, and Clarke tipped the puck under Harding.
Foy got loose for a wide open shot on the power play early in the second, but shot wide, and LaBarbera got back to stop the rebound stuff attempt.
LaBarbera made three saves back to back on that same power play, somehow keeping Houston off the board. He robbed Ryan Hamilton’s one-time blast from the low slot, and covered up the second rebound attempt with bodies flailing in the crease.
Murphy fired from low in the right circle on a nice feed from Mattias Weinhandl 6:30 into the second, but LaBarbera covered the short side.
Midway through the second, Murphy came crashing in from the right point, but fired just wide of the far post. Seconds later, Olson hit the outside of the net. Those opportunities came in nearly a six-minute run without a stoppage in play.
Olson got Houston within 2-1 with his sixth goal of the season, with 8:29 left in the second and Houston shorthanded. LaBarbera made a save, but with Manchester on the power play, he tried to shovel the puck to a defenseman cutting behind the net. Bryan Lundbohm stole the puck off his stick, and quickly fed Olson in front of the net. Olson put the puck by the goalie before he was fully recovered for his 50th career AHL goal.
Danny Irmen rang one off the post that would have tied the game, just before Manchester went up by two goals (Photo by Jason Villanueva)
The turning point of the game came with less than four minutes remaining in the second. The Aeros almost got even, shorthanded again. Jason Morgan set up Danny Irmen on a 2-on-1, and Irmen rang a shot off the left post.
But just seconds later on the same Manchester power play, Murray scored in his Monarchs debut to push the lead to 3-1. He fired from the right circle on a feed from O’Sullivan, with 3:23 left in the second.
The Aeros had an early power play in the third period, but a Ratchuk hooking penalty just past the midway point stopped the man advantage.
Houston got another power play after a too many men on the ice penalty at the 4:42 mark, and LaBarbera swallowed up Ratchuk’s open blast from the left circle. But Voloshenko’s seventh goal of the season cut the lead to a goal with 5:53 gone. Voloshenko, in the right circle, fed Weinhandl cutting towards the corner. Weinhandl completed the perfect give-and-go to Voloshenko, who ripped the shot over LaBarbera.
But the Aeros went shorthanded again, this time a hooking call to Clayton Stoner
. Zeiler beat Harding clean with a shot between the legs, but the puck trickled just far of the post. Harding stoned Zeiler seconds later, with a terrific pad save.
Foy took a roughing penalty with 7:58 remaining, and defenseman Bryan Schmidt rang a shot off the right post.
Ratchuk fired just over the crossbar from the center point with four minutes remaining, and then got called for a crosscheck in front of the Aeros net. Olson nearly put in his second shorthanded goal of the night, deflecting a Stoner shot from the point, but LaBarbera made a pad save.
The Aeros got Harding out of the net and called a timeout with 50 seconds remaining. Houston enjoyed a 6-on-4 advantage when Doug Nolan got called for delay of game – without a stick, he grabbed hold of the puck and held it under him with 32 ticks left. LaBarbera kicked out Murphy’s point blast off the faceoff, and Houston was called for icing seconds later, sealing its fate.
Houston finished 1-for-6 on the power play, while Manchester went 2-for-8. The Aeros’ penalty kill unit, ranked third in the AHL heading into last week, has allowed six goals on 16 chances over its last two games. Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros was Joey Tetarenko. Aeros head coach Rob Daum turned 49 today. Houston’s Jason Morgan picked up a hooking penalty late in the first period, giving him 599 career penalty minutes. LaBarbera is 6-2-0 in his career against Houston. Weinhandl moved to 18 points (9-9=18) in 15 games since getting assigned by the Wiled. Houston played without regulars Shawn Belle, Erik Reitz and Joel Ward – all on recall to Minnesota. The Aeros fell to 6-6-0-6 in one-goal games. Manchester played its league-high 25th such game, moving to 12-6-6-1. Houston dropped to 1-14-0-1 when scoring two or fewer goals. The Aeros are 16-6-0-4 when scoring three or more.