|Aeros 3, Rampage 1
| Official Box Score SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Josh Harding made 34 saves, and Curtis Murphy, Rem Murray and Josh Olson each scored third-period goals, as the Houston Aeros rallied to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 3-1 at SBC Center for their fifth straight win. Houston is 6-0-0-1 in its last seven and improved to 13-4-1-1, good for an AHL-best 28 points. The Aeros’ five straight wins tie a season-high.
The Aeros, who have trailed at one point in seven of their 13 victories, play game two of a four-game road trip Thursday in Manitoba at 7:30 p.m. The trip continues Friday in Manitoba, and finishes Saturday with Houston’s first-ever trip to Toronto.
Scott Stirling made 34 saves and Martin Sonnenberg scored early in the third period for the Rampage, which is winless in seven straight (0-6-0-1) and has lost six straight home games.
Stirling made the best save of the opening period, with five minutes left. Murphy slid a right-to-left pass to Patrick O’Sullivan, whose one-timer from the left circle was blocked by a sliding Stirling. Stirling also robbed Bryan Lundbohm as time expired in the first.
Harding, who is 15-3-1 in his last 19 regular-season decisions, made a pair of dynamite saves 3:30 into the second to keep the game scoreless. First, he got a stick on Randall Gelech’s attempt from the low slot. Gelech tried to push the rebound inside the far post, but Harding reached over to push the puck just wide of the net.
San Antonio got 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 midway through the second, but Harding was outstanding again. He kicked out Drake Berehowsky’s point blast, then sticked aside Martin Sonnenberg’s rebound attempt from the low slot. A minute later, Sonnenberg hit the post from the right circle.
Houston poured on the chances late in the second on the power play, but Stirling stopped all comers.
Sonnenberg got San Antonio on top with 6:19 gone by in the third, with Houston’s Colin Peters in the penalty box for interference. Jamie Lundmark dug the puck out of the left corner and slid a pass to Sonnenberg, camped out without an Aero around him in front of the net. Sonnenberg easily one-timed a shot under Harding’s pads for his third of the season.
San Antonio had failed to score on its last 52 power play chances, and Houston had killed off 31 straight shorthanded chances.
The Aeros went on the power play with 12:12 left when Kiel McLeod went after Erik Reitz - who didn’t fight back. Reitz’ self control led to Murphy’s power play goal, 2:28 later. Kirby Law, along the right wing boards, fed Murphy inside the center point. Murphy stepped into a shot and powered the puck high blocker side, just under the crossbar, for his second of the season.
San Antonio’s Matthew Spiller went off for holding with 5:31 remaining in regulation, as Petr Taticek kept after the puck in the right corner. The Aeros didn’t get a shot until the man advantage was nearly over, but it was the game-winning goal. Reitz, at the right point, launched a shot through traffic on a cross-ice feed from O’Sullivan. Murray tipped the rising shot just under the far end of the crossbar for his second of the season.
Olson, a former Rampage player, finished things up with an empty-netter with 28 seconds left after he tipped the puck out of the zone to center ice.
Houston went 2-for-9 on the power play, while San Antonio finished 1-for-5. The Rampage has given up at least two power play goals in each of the last seven games.
Notes: The Aeros scratched Miroslav Kopriva, Ryan Stokes, Adam Courchaine, Mark Rooneem, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov. Houston’s Erik Westrum had his six-game point streak snapped. Roman Voloshenko saw his four-game point streak and three-game goal streak stopped. Harding is 8-2-0 in his career against the Rampage. The Aeros have 13 wins in their first 19 games, tying the 1998-99 Turner Cup team for the second most in team history. The 2002-03 Calder Cup winning team won 14 of its first 19. The Aeros are 6-0-0-0 when outshooting their opponent. They outshot San Antonio 37-35 tonight. Reitz has assists in four straight games, both a new career-high and new team season-high.