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Aeros 5, Stars 3

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Aeros 5, Stars 3

Official Box Score

DES MOINES, Iowa – Kirby Law tallied a goal and an assist to set a new team record and win the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the American Hockey League’s top scorer with 110 points, and Erik Westrum also had a goal and a helper to finish in second place with 98 points, as the Houston Aeros secured their third 50-win season with a 5-3 victory over the Iowa Stars at Wells Fargo Arena in the regular season finale for both teams. Joey Tetarenko scored his first goal since October of 2003, Peter Olvecky and Matt Foy also scored, and Patrick O’Sullivan chipped in three assists for second-place Houston (50-24-3-3), which will open the West Division Semifinals Friday at 7:35 p.m. at Toyota Center versus Peoria. Houston, which got 31 saves from Josh Harding en route to his 50th career win, snapped an eight-game road skid (0-6-1-1), winning for the first time on the road since March 15 in Chicago.

Jim Fahey, Junior Lessard and D’Arcy McConvey had a goal apiece and Dan Ellis made 33 stops for Iowa, which lost for just the second time in its final 13 games.

Law (43-67=110) and Westrum (34-64=98) finished the season as the top two scorers in the AHL, the first time that’s happened in 20 seasons. Rochester’s Paul Gardner (112) and Jody Gage (99) did it in 1985-86. Law and Westrum were voted First Team All-AHL along with defenseman Curtis Murphy.

Law, who broke Brian Wiseman’s 1998-99 team record of 109 points with a second-period assist, finished with the second-highest AHL point total since 1997-98. Only Binghamton’s Jason Spezza (117) put up more, in his 2004-05 Most Valuable Player season. Law’s 12-point margin of victory is also the biggest margin over a second-place finisher since the 1999-2000 season, when Christian Matte (104) beat Mike Maneluk (87) by 17 points

O’Sullivan, meanwhile, finished fourth in the scoring race with 93 points (47-46=93), tops among AHL rookies. O’Sullivan tied Darcy Tucker for the most points of any AHL rookie since 1994-95. Tucker posted 93 in 1995-96.

Law (8-9=17), O’Sullivan (3-12=15) and Westrum (7-6=13) combined to post 45 points (18-27=45) in just 10 games against the Stars this season.

Fahey was credited with his sixth goal, 2:53 into the first, as Iowa broke on top. Krys Barch, behind the net, fed Fahey between the circles. Fahey ripped a shot on net, and the puck bounced off former Stars defenseman Shawn Belle and into the net.

Law, though, countered at the 4:25 mark, getting his 43rd goal and Wiseman’s point total. Law put home a pass from Westrum, just back from NHL Minnesota. Rookie defenseman Colin Peters picked up the second assist, his first point in 30 games this season.

Olvecky tallied his 14th goal at 10:04 of the first to give Houston its first lead. The Slovakian winger won the faceoff to O’Sullivan, whose shot from the right circle was deflected by a Stars player. The puck went right to Olvecky, just inside the right circle, and Olvecky stunned Ellis with a low shot just inside the far post.

Ellis made a great pad save on O’Sullivan on a 2-on-1 less than a minute later, with the AHL’s most outstanding rookie bidding for his 48th goal. Law set up Scott Ferguson in the mid slot with seven minutes left, but Ellis swallowed up the blast.

Tetarenko tallied his first goal since October 25, 2003, at 3:59 of the second for a two-goal advantage. Tetarenko, in the right circle, snapped a shot by Ellis on feeds from fellow enforcer Bill Kinkel and rookie Brendan Bernakevitch, snapping a streak of 109 games without a goal.

Lessard got the Stars within a goal at 10:07 of the second. He redirected Dan Jancevski’s point blast from the mid slot, and the puck eluded Harding for the former Aeros’ 26th goal of the season.

But Law broke Wiseman’s points record, as he assisted on Westrum’s power play goal with 4:21 left in the second to restore the advantage to two goals. Law, behind the net, fed Westrum at the top of the right circle, and the Aeros’ centerman ripped a high shot by Ellis for his 34th goal.

McConvey got the Stars back within a goal with just 2.4 seconds showing on the second-period clock. McConvey parked himself in front of Harding and deflected Mario Scalzo’s seemingly harmless shot from the left point by the netminder for his first goal of the season.

Bernakevitch had an open net to shoot at six minutes into the third with Ellis out of position, but the rookie’s shot went over the crossbar.

Foy finished off O’Sullivan’s left-to-right, 2-on-1 pass with 9:45 left in regulation, Foy’s 15th goal of the season, for the final margin.

Houston finished 1-for-2 on the power play, while Iowa went 0-for-3.

  • Not dressing for the Aeros were Chris Ovington, Ryan Stokes, Bryan Lundbohm, Clayton Stoner, Josh Olson and Andrei Nazarov.
  • Defenseman A.J. Thelen, Minnesota’s top pick in 2004, made his pro debut and was a plus-one with two penalty minutes. Ellis made a nice save on Thelen’s left circle blast with five minutes remaining in regulation.
  • Houston finished the season with 22 come-from-behind victories, including three of their last four wins.
  • The Aeros’ 106 points are the third most in team history. This is their first 50-win campaign since they went 54-15-13 in 1998-99 en route to a Turner Cup title.
  • Foy has six points (4-2=6) in a five-game point streak to tie his season- and career-high.
  • Olvecky has a goal and three assists in a three-game point streak.
  • Westrum’s 98 points tie him for the third-most by an Aero in any single season. O’Sullivan ranks fifth with 93.
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