Pre-game interview with Rob Daum
Aeros forward Peter Olvecky, Olympic champion speedskater and Texas native Chad Hedrick, Special Olympic Illinois State Champion Calvin Stumpe and Peoria captain Brendan Buckley participate in the pre-game puck drop. Hedrick hosted the Stumpe family and several other Special Olympians in a special pre-game ceremony. Aeros 5, Rivermen 0
Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas – Seamus Kotyk made 36 saves, AHL leading scorer Kirby Law scored two goals and Scott Ferguson, Joel Ward and Matt Foy each added a goal, as the Houston Aeros snapped an eight-game winless span with a convincing 5-0 victory over the Peoria Rivermen in front of 8,525 on Chad Hedrick Night at Toyota Center. Houston (46-22-3-3) is now seven points up on the third-place Rivermen, but just three points behind first-place Milwaukee, which defeated Omaha 2-1 in a shootout tonight. The Aeros, who got two assists apiece from newcomer Greg Mauldin, Bryan Lundbohm and Patrick O’Sullivan, were 0-5-2-1 in their last eight games but opened up a five-game homestand with a huge victory.
Chris Beckford-Tseu made 15 saves for Peoria, which had won four straight and dropped to 9-2-0-2 in its last 32. The Rivermen have lost all four games at Toyota Center this season by a combined 22-6 margin.
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The Aeros killed off 1:12 of a 5-on-3 midway through the first, although the Rivermen weren’t without their chances. Kotyk stopped Mike Mottau’s right point blast, and then got himself in position to kick Gavin Morgan’s rebound attempt just wide. Seconds later, Jon DiSalvatore
rang one off the post.
The penalty kill inspired the Aeros and the crowd, as Law scored at the 10:30 mark for the game’s first goal. Law carried the puck into the zone on the right wing, but the puck went off a defenseman’s skate. Roman Voloshenko came across the line and ripped a shot off Beckford-Tseu, and Law picked up the rebound and backhanded it into the net for his 39th goal and league-leading 102nd point.
Ferguson added his fifth of the season with 7:03 left in the first. Lundbohm and Mauldin controlled the puck along the right wing board. Mauldin carried the puck between the circles and fed Ferguson at the center point. Ferguson let a seemingly harmless shot go through traffic, and it beat a screened Beckford-Tseu, banked off the post and into the net.
Beckford-Tseu kept the deficit two goals with an athletic save two minutes into the second. Law got a 2-on-1 feed from O’Sullivan in the left circle and unloaded, but the goalie went post-to-post for the save.
Ward’s fifth of the season extended the advantage to 3-0 at 6:06, and send Beckford-Tseu to the bench for a quick breather. Lundbohm, along the right wing boards, fed Ward, all alone in the right circle. Ward had all the time in the world to set up, and launch a slapshot under Beckford-Tseu’s pads.
Law’s second of the night, 40th of the season and 103rd point made it 4-0 with 11:10 left in the second. O’Sullivan picked a Rivermen’s pocket deep in the Houston zone and alertly banked the puck off the glass to a streaking Law up the right wing. Law broke in alone, deked and went under Beckford-Tseu, back in the game.
Law has 103 points (40-63=103), the leader in the league by 10 points. His total is just six points off Jeff Christian’s 1998-99 team record with six games left.
Just after an Aeros power play expired, Foy’s 11th padded the advantage to five goals, with 8:35 left in the middle period. Mauldin got the puck to Peter Olvecky in the right circle. Olvecky wound up and let loose a shot that handcuffed Beckford-Tseu. The rebound trickled to Foy at the left doorstep, and he poked the puck just past the goalie.
Kotyk stoned DiSalvatore, just back from NHL St. Louis, on a power play breakaway late in the second.
Houston outscored Peoria 3-0 in the second period despite being outshot 16-8.
Peoria again outshot Houston, this time 10-7, in the third, but Kotyk stood strong to complete his sixth career shutout and second of the season.
Houston finished 0-for-8 on the power play, while Peoria went 0-for-6. Notes: Not dressing for the Aeros were newly-signed Chris Ovington, A.J. Thelen, Adam Courchaine, Clayton Stoner, Josh Olson and Andrei Nazarov. Tonight marked Houston’s first victory against a team other than Chicago since it beat Hamilton 3-2 on March 5. The Aeros had been 3-1-0-0 against Chicago and 0-7-2-1 versus the remainder of the AHL. The Aeros allowed two goals or less for the third time in the last 16 games, but for the second time in two nights. The final 15 of those contests have come with Josh Harding in Minnesota. Houston is 27-0-3-0 when allowing two goals or fewer. Law has a six-game point streak (4-6=10). O’Sullivan’s two assists pad his AHL rookie lead of 85 points (44-41=85). He has the fifth-most points of any AHL rookie since 1994-95. Law is just the third player in team history to record 40 goals in a season, joining Christian (45) and O’Sullivan (44).