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Aeros 4, Rampage 1

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 4, Rampage 1

Official Box Score

HOUSTON, Texas. – Benoit Pouliot continued his torrid streak with two more goals and an assist, Peter Ratchuk tacked on a goal and a helper and Alex Leavitt added two assists, as the Houston Aeros continued their home dominance of the San Antonio Rampage with a 4-1 victory in front of 6,673 at Toyota Center. Josh Harding made 20 stops and Matt Foy had an empty-net goal for Houston (8-7-0-1), which has won five in a row overall and eight of 10 to climb above the .500 mark for the first time this season. The Aeros are 14-0-2-0 in the last 16 home meetings with San Antonio – their longest home points streak against any opponent in team history.

The Aeros are at Omaha on Saturday at 7 p.m. before returning home to face Hartford on Sunday at 5:05 p.m.

Pouliot has eight points (5-3=8) in his last four games, and eight goals in his last eight games alone. He has a team-best 10 goals in his first 13 games. It took last season’s AHL Rookie of the Year, Houston’s Patrick O’Sullivan, 23 games to notch 10 goals. Pouliot is up to a tie for eighth among AHL rookies in scoring with 14 points (10-4=14).

Harding, meanwhile, evened his record at 7-7-1 with his fifth straight win, while improving to 11-2-1 against the Rampage in his career. Harding lowered his gaa to 2.22 and upped his save pct. to .929. He has played all but 21 of the Aeros’ minutes in goal this season and his 16 consecutive games played are three off Mike Smith’s team record.

Randall Gelech scored an early goal and Josh Tordjman made 18 stops in his AHL debut for San Antonio (5-11-0-0), which has lost three in a row. The Rampage plays host to Houston next Tuesday before returning to Toyota Center a week from tonight.

Gelech got San Antonio on the board with his third goal of the season, just 2:34 into the game. Jakub Koreis carried the puck behind the net and hit an unmarked Gelech in the low slot, and Gelech roofed a one-timer over Harding’s glove.

But Pouliot answered back only 46 seconds later with his first goal of the period. Joey Tetarenko flicked the puck on net from the left circle, and Tordjman left the rebound on the deck for a cutting Pouliot. The rookie backhanded the puck into the top shelf.

Pouliot scored his second of the opening period and team-leading 10th goal of the season, on the power play, with 7:27 gone. Ratchuk fed Curtis Murphy at the center point. Murphy launched a puck wide of the net, but the puck caromed off the boards right to Pouliot at the left doorstep. In one motion, Pouliot caught the puck on his stick and stuffed it into the net.

Aeros defenseman Erik Reitz tangled with veteran winger Pascal Rheaume with 4:10 left in the first. Rheaume picked up an extra roughing minor on the play, and it cost his team dearly.

Houston extended the lead to 3-1 on the power play with 2:59 left, and again Pouliot found the net. Leavitt got the puck to Pouliot in the right circle. Pouliot saw an enormous amount of space in the left circle, and flipped the puck. Ratchuk cut in from the point, controlled the puck and unleashed a furious slapper over Tordjman’s glove for his first goal of the season.

Tordjman prevented further damage in the final minute, with Houston on another power play. Clayton Stoner’s shot from the center point was deflected in front, and Tordjman just reached out with his right pad to make the save.

Pouliot just missed the post and the hat trick five minutes into the third, on a great set up by Ben Thomson.

Harding just got enough of Bill Thomas’ redirection from the left doorstep with San Antonio on the power play midway through the first, keeping the lead at two.

The Aeros had a golden opportunity – four of them – to take a 4-1 lead with 7:30 left in the second. Murphy set up Pouliot, whose shot was just turned away by Tordman’s right pad. Murphy poked at the rebound, which the netminder tried to cover. He coughed up the rebound, and Leavitt hit the post, before pushing a high shot that hit the side of the net.

Houston rookie Danny Irmen clanged a shot off the post eight minutes into the third, trying to extend the lead to three goals.

Harding made his best save of the night with 7:15 remaining, when Thomas streaked in on the right wing, faked a shot and went behind the net for a wraparound. Harding drove back to the right post to make the save.

Foy finished things off with the empty netter with 2:27 left. He originally shot wide, but then beat the defenseman to the puck for the goal. Roman Voloshenko assisted on the goal.

Houston, which entered the game in 27th and last place in the AHL on the man advantage, finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while San Antonio went 0-for-3. The Aeros have killed off 61-of-64 shorthanded chances in the last nine games.

Notes:
  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Steve Shields, Dieter Kochan, Ryan Stokes, John Scott and Ryan Hamilton.
  • Pouliot tied the team record for most points in a period. O’Sullivan did it most recently, last March 7 in a 5-4 win over Chicago at Toyota Center.
  • Murphy’s point was the 399th of his professional career.
  • Houston improved to 3-4-0-0 at Toyota Center, while San Antonio fell to a league-worst 1-7-0-0 on the road.
  • Pouliot has a team-leading four multiple-point games. His four-game point streak ties Foy’s team season-high.
  • The Aeros allowed just 20 shots on goal after allowing an average of nearly 40 in the last four games.
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