Official Box Score PEORIA, Ill. –
Michal Birner scored a pair of third-period goals, including the game-winner on the power play with 1:12 remaining, and Jason Bacashihua turned aside rookie Danny Irmen’s penalty shot with 2.2 seconds left, as the Peoria Rivermen defeated the Houston Aeros 4-3 at Carver Arena. Jon DiSalvatore
and Cam Keith also scored, and Bacashihua finished with 19 saves for Peoria (25-19-1-2), which moved into a fourth-place tie with Iowa and increased its lead over sixth-place Houston to five points.
Jason Morgan and Matt Foy each tallied a goal and an assist, Ryan Hamilton also scored and Dieter Kochan made 29 saves for the Aeros (20-24-3-5), who established a new team record by playing their ninth straight one-goal game. Houston, 0-4-2-1 in its last seven road games, travels to Milwaukee for a 4 p.m. game Saturday.
Houston took a trio of one-goal leads in the game. Peoria had an answer for each, and scored the game’s final two goals to cap a frantic third period.
Aeros rookie forward/defenseman John Scott got called for hooking with 12:09 left in the third, giving Peoria a power play and a chance to tie the game. But Jamie Rivers picked up a charging call 23 seconds later, evening things up.
The Rivermen tied the game with one second left on the ensuing 4-on-4, with 10:10 remaining in regulation. Yan Stastny picked off an errant Clayton Stoner
pass in the left corner and fed Birner, who beat Kochan for his sixth goal of the season.
Kochan robbed Mike Glumac’s snapshot from point-blank range four minutes later.
The Rivermen got their fourth power play with 3:04 left when Mattias Weinhandl went off for holding. Houston had a good chance shorthanded midway through the advantage, but Bacashihua turned aside Bryan Lundbohm’s left circle blast.
But Birner gave Peoria its first lead, late on the power play, with 1:12 left. Ryan Ramsay walked into the left circle and fed Birner at the right post, and Birner put the puck into an open net for his second of the night and seventh of the season.
With Kochan out of the net, Curtis Murphy found Irmen from deep in his own end for a breakaway in the waning seconds. Irmen was hauled down from behind, setting up a dramatic penalty shot. Irmen, 0-for-4 in shootouts this season, beat Bacashihua five-hole, but the goalie got a piece of the puck with his skate and it trickled just wide of the right post.
The Aeros won the ensuing faceoff in Peoria territory but couldn’t get the puck by Bacashihua.
Houston suffered its first regulation loss when leading after two periods (16-1-1-2), while Peoria improved to 4-16-0-0 when trailing after 40 minutes.
Hamilton netted his seventh goal to give Houston a 1-0 lead at the 8:54 mark of the first period – the fourth time the Aeros have scored the first goal in five games. Morgan, behind the net, fed a cutting Hamilton in the right circle, and the rookie fired a shot by Bacashihua.
Defenseman Shawn Belle fired just wide of an empty net a minute later.
Then Peoria evened the score, getting Keith’s fifth goal of the season. D.J. King skated in on the left wing and went around the net. Kochan stopped the wraparound attempt to the short side, but the pick skidded off his pads right to Keith at the left doorstep, and he easily put the puck into an open net.
Morgan netted his sixth of the season with 6:16 left in the first, to give Houston the lead back. Foy streaked into the right circle and got Bacashihua to commit. Instead of shooting, Foy hit Morgan in the low slot, and Morgan deflected the puck into the empty cage.
Bacashihua stopped Irmen’s breakaway seconds later with a nifty pokecheck.
Kochan left an open net for Ramsay’s wraparound later in the first, but he got back in time to make a sprawling save.
Referee Terry Koharski whistled just two penalties in the first period, including a late tripping call on Murphy. The Aeros killed off the opportunity, and then Murphy nearly scored on the other end with the net partially vacant.
Irmen fed Ben Thomson on a 2-on-1 early in the third, but Thomson didn’t get a clear shot on net.
DiSalvatore scored his 13th goal to get Peoria even with 7:14 gone in the second period, and the teams 4-on-4. Kochan stopped Trent Whitfield, but Whitfield chopped at the rebound. Koharski did not originally credit the goal, nor did he when he got help from his linesmen. But after conferring with the goal judge, the goal counted.
With Houston on the power play midway through the first, Bacashihua made two great saves. First, he got a piece of Belle’s point blast. Seconds later, while flat on his back, Bacashihua robbed Foy of a wraparound goal.
But both Belle and Foy exacted their revenge, putting Houston up 3-2 at the 10:01 mark. Belle took a Murphy pass at the center point and walked into the mid slot. He fired a pass to Foy at the left doorstep, and Foy tucked the puck by Bacashihua for his team-best and career-high 21st goal – eighth on the power play. The goal marked Foy’s third in two games.
Whitfield hit the crossbar with a backhander early in the third.
Houston finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Peoria went 1-for-4. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Peter Ratchuk, Peter Olvecky, Benoit Pouliot and Chris Ovington. Belle played in his 100th AHL game. Bacashihua made his first start since January 27 and just his third since December 1. Foy’s 40 points (21-19=40) have tied his career-high, set last season (15-25=40) in 51 games. Tonight marked Foy’s 43rd game this season. The Aeros fell to 2-9-2-1 in games where goalie Josh Harding doesn’t play. Harding remains on recall to NHL Minnesota. Houston is 8-10-3-5 in one-goal games, but just 2-7-3-1 in its last 13 such games. The Aeros have only two non shootout one-goal wins, the last coming 3-2 at Iowa on November 9. Houston had played eighth straight one-goal games in its inaugural season, from February 28-March 17, 1995. The Aeros fell to 18-8-1-4 when scoring three or more goals. Houston has trailed in 13 of 14 games. The Aeros’ seven-game road winless streak is their longest since an 0-6-1-1 mark from March 17-April 15, 2006. It ties the second-longest road winless slide in the AHL this season. Portland went winless in 11 straight. Houston is 1-5-0-0 in its last six regular season trips to Carver Arena. Peoria has won two straight at home after a four-game skid there. The Aeros are winless (0-15-1-4) when allowing four goals or more.