|Rivermen 8, Aeros 2
| Official Box Score PEORIA, Ill. – Ryan Ramsay, Gavin Morgan and Tomas Mojzis each scored two goals and rookie David Backes added a goal and two assists, as the Peoria Rivermen used five power play goals to hand the Houston Aeros an 8-2 loss at Carver Arena. Peoria won its third straight and improved to 8-2-0-1 in its last 11. The Rivermen are now within six points of second-place Houston, but with a game in hand and two more head-to-head meetings with the Aeros this weekend in Houston.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Peter Olvecky each scored late in the third period, and Kirby Law added an assist to become just the 95th player in the 70-year history of the AHL to reach 100 points. But Houston (45-22-2-3) is winless in its last seven (0-5-1-1) and remained one point behind idle Milwaukee for first place in the West. Houston still has one game in hand. The Aeros are winless in seven straight for the first time since a franchise-record 0-5-8-1 streak from December 27, 2003-January 23, 2004. Miroslav Kopriva stopped 12-of-16 shots before being replaced by Seamus Kotyk.
Jus three other players had reached the 100-point since 2000-01. Law is just the second player in team history to reach 100 points. Brian Wiseman totaled a team-record 109 in the 1998-99.
Houston finishes its five-game road trip Friday in Omaha at 7 p.m. The Aeros open up a five-game homestand Saturday at 7:35 p.m. against Peoria. The teams meet again Sunday at 5:05 p.m.
Ramsay scored his 12th of the season at 5:47 of the first to give Peoria the lead. Kopriva stopped Backes’ low slot attempt, but Ramsey got loose from behind the net to poke in the rebound.
Less than a minute later, Kopriva went post-to-post to rob Ramsey’s attempt from the left doorstep off a cross-ice feed.
Peoria’s Rocky Thompson had a chance at a near-open net off a Scott Ferguson turnover midway through the first, but he missed the net.
The Aeros got 38 seconds of a 5-on-3 with 5:13 left in the first when Blake Evans’ whacked Bryan Lundbohm to the ground with Houston already on the power play. The Aeros’ best chance of the advantage came when Peoria’s Aaron MacKenzie cleared the puck off teammate Mike Stuart’s face in the low right circle. The puck nearly bounced into the net. The Rivermen also blocked no fewer than four shots on the man advantage.
On yet another Aeros power play late in the first, Naumenko slid over to stop Peter Olvecky’s right circle shot on a 2-on-1 with Bryan Lundbohm.
Houston went 0-for-4 on the power play in the first period, but the Rivermen countered by scoring three times on their first three chances in the second. Peoria scored four goals in a span of 4:33 early in the middle period to extend to take control.
Ramsay padded the Rivermen’s lead to two goals at 4:42 of the second, with Peoria on the power play. Trevor Byrne let a shot loose from the blueline, and Kopriva kicked it out. Backes, positioned in the mid slot, gathered the rebound and slipped a perfect feed to a cutting Ramsay in the left circle. Ramsay fired the puck by Kopriva for his second of the night and 13th of the season.
Just 1:22 later, after an Aeros turnover, Morgan scored his first of two goals in a 62-second span. Jon DiSalvatore, in the left corner, was double-teamed but feathered a 50-foot pass to a waiting and unmarked Morgan at the right doorstep. Morgan tapped the puck by Kopriva.
Then, Morgan’s second of the night and 15th of the season made it 4-0 at 7:16 of the second. With Peoria again on the power play, Morgan poked the puck under Kopriva while falling to the ground. The goal ended Kopriva’s night.
Only 1:59 after that, Backes scored his second goal in three games since joining the Rivermen, again on the power play. The rookie out of Minnesota State-Mankato deflected a Mojzis point blast by Seamus Kotyk at the 9:15 mark.
Mojzis made it 6-0 at 1:16 of the third, firing a Blake Evans faceoff win by Kotyk for his first goal with Peoria.
It took Mojzis just 2:55 more to score his second with the Rivermen, and seventh overall, as his wrister on a 5-on-3 eluded Kotyk at the 4:11 mark. Peoria also scored on the second Houston penalty, as Brooks rebounded a D.J. King stuff attempt high over Kotyk for his 14th goal – Peoria’s fifth power play goal of the game.
O’Sullivan ruined Gregg Naumenko’s shutout bid and snapped a season-high, six-game goal-less streak with his team-leading 43rd goal with 14:17 remaining.
Olvecky cut the lead to 8-2 with less than two minutes left.
Houston finished 0-for-6 on the power play, while Peoria went 5-for-7.
Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Brendan Bernakevitch and Andrei Nazarov. The Aeros fell to 7-18-0-1 when yielding four or more goals. The Aeros are winless in a season-high six straight road games, their longest stretch since a franchise-record 0-7-2-0 stretch January 31-February 26, 2004. Houston has lost three straight road games outright, one off the team record, set five times, most recently from February 13-22, 2004. Since beating Hamilton 3-2 on March 5 the Aeros are 3-1-0-0 against Chicago and 0-7-1-1 versus the remainder of the AHL. Houston is 2-11-1-2 on the road in the month the last two seasons, 4-13-1-3 the last three seasons and 7-18-1-3 since 2002-03. Houston has been outscored 22-6 in the third period of its last 13 games. O’Sullivan’s 43 goals are two off Christian’s team record. He’s tied for the fourth most goals by an AHL rookie since the 1991-92 season, and his 82 points are the seventh most by an AHL rookie since 1994-95. Peoria tied an Aeros record for most consecutive goals scored by an opponent. Manitoba accomplished the feat last March 19 in an 8-1 win.