Official Box Score GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –
Roman Voloshenko scored twice in the shootout, and Dieter Kochan replaced an injured Josh Harding
late in the third period and turned away Krys Kolanos in the seventh round of the shootout, as the Houston Aeros defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-3, for their first win of the season. Danny Irmen added a goal and an assist, and Josh Olson and Benoit Pouliot also scored for Houston (1-5-0-1), which returns home Friday at 7:35 p.m. against Hamilton on 80’s Night featuring The Lost Boys
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Harding, who has played more minutes and faced more shots than any other AHL goalie in the season’s first three weeks, made 27 saves before leaving due to injury with six minutes remaining in regulation.
Kyle Quincey, Matt Ellis and Darryl Bootland each scored and Stefan Liv made 28 saves for Grand Rapids (3-1-1-1).
After the Aeros failed to threaten on an early power play, Grand Rapids took advantage of Houston’s third too many men on the ice penalty in less than two periods. Jonathan Ericsson, at the left point, threaded a pass to Kip Miller (two assists) low in the right circle. Miller slid a pass to an unmarked Ellis at the left doorstep, and Ellis had an easy time putting the puck into the open cage for his third goal of the season at the 3:07 mark.
Pouliot’s team-best fourth goal got Houston even 7:11 into the game. He took a pass from Ryan Stokes, split the defense in the right circle, and flipped a nasty backhander inside the far post for his second goal in as many nights.
With Houston again on the power play, Aeros winger Peter Olvecky got hammered from behind by Ericsson in the low slot, but no penalty was called, ruining a scoring chance.
Irmen almost gave Houston the lead with seven minutes left in the first with a quick turnaround shot from the high slot, but Liv made a nifty pad save in traffic. Seconds later, Irmen shot just wide trying to finish off a 3-on-2.
Liv continued his outstanding play, robbing rookie Alex Leavitt twice late in the first. First, he toedragged past a defender and went with a backhand, but Liv made the save. Liv then ranged to his right to get a glove on Leavitt’s rebound attempt.
Grand Rapids controlled play for the first half of the second period, but it was Olson that gave the Aeros a 2-1 lead with 9:03 gone. Irmen, on the right wing, broke in 2-on-1 with Olson, who finished off the nice pass with a top shelf shot over a sliding Liv for his second goal of the season.
Bootland got the Griffins even with 4:38 left in the second. Harding made the initial save on the veteran agitator, who roofed the rebound for his first goal of the season.
Despite Bootland’s goal, Harding was great in the second period, with 17 saves.
Quincey’s power play goal, his first tally of the season, gave the Griffins the lead back only 43 seconds into the third. Quincey corralled a Miller pass in between the circles and rifled a shot through traffic that appeared to change direction in front and go up and over Harding.
Irmen got the Aeros even again at the 4:18 mark. Peter Ratchuk let a shot rip from the left point. Liv was well outside his crease to make a blocker save, and Irmen hopped on the rebound in the mid slot and shot it into an empty cage.
Houston got a power play – its first since the opening period – with 2:58 left after a tripping call to Brock Raduske, but couldn’t solve Liv.
Grand Rapids head coach Greg Ireland elected to have the Aeros go first in the shootout, Alex Leavitt, who led the ECHL in scoring last season as a rookie, led off and scored blocker side. Miller countered for Grand Rapids and evened things up after a fake.
Aeros rookie Ben Thomson lost control of the puck coming in, but still got a good shot off, and it hit the post. Josh Langfeld shot over the crossbar for Grand Rapids.
Voloshenko went right over Liv’s glove and into the net in round three, but Evan McGrath slipped a shot under Kochan to tie the shootout.
Veteran Jason Morgan went top shelf over Liv’s glove, knocking the water bottle in the air, giving Houston the lead again. Kochan stood his ground to stop Eric Himelfarb.
Liv made a blocker save on Curtis Murphy, and Kolanos went low on Kochan to force sudden death in the shootout.
Leavitt ripped a shot over the crossbar in round six, and Kochan got down to knock away Miller’s attempt.
Voloshenko snapped a shot off the post and into the net to give Houston the lead again, and Kochan gloved away Kolanos’ wrister to seal the victory.
Houston went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Grand Rapids finished 2-for-5. The Aeros are 4-for-54 with the man advantage this season. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Tony Quesada, Steve Shields, Shawn Belle, John Scott, and Joel Ward. Houston defenseman Erik Reitz pushed his Aeros penalty minute total to 498 – most in the team’s AHL history. Only three players in team history have reached the 500-PIM mark. The Aeros again played without Wyatt Smith and Matt Foy, both recalled to NHL Minnesota. Irmen, Olson and linemate Bryan Lundbohm were each a team-best plus-two. Nine of Houston’s 16 goals – including two of three tonight – have been scored by rookies. The Aeros improved to 5-13-1-2 in their last 21 road games, including the playoffs. Voloshenko had six goals in three games against Grand Rapids last season.