Official Box Score HOUSTON, Texas –
Matt Foy scored two goals to become the fifth-leading goal scorer in Aeros history, Jason Morgan, Danny Irmen and Mattias Weinhandl added a goal and an assist apiece and Dieter Kochan made 47 saves, as Houston defeated the Peoria Rivermen 6-3 at Toyota Center. Rookie defenseman John Scott chipped in three assists, after posting one in the season’s first 55 games, and Peter Olvecky added a goal for Houston.
Houston (25-37-3-6) improved to 9-1-0-1 all-time on home ice against Peoria, including the playoffs. The Aeros continue this five-game homestand Saturday at 7:35 p.m. against Worcester. The first 3,000 fans receive an Aeros coffee mug. Call 1.866.GO.AEROS or visit Aeros.com
Yan Stastny, Michal Birner and Jon DiSalvatore
scored a goal apiece and Chris Beckford-Tseu made 12 stops in one period for Peoria (34-29-2-6), which fell to 1-5-0-1 in its last seven and remained one point behind fourth-place Iowa for the West Division’s final playoff spot.
The Aeros broke on top 7:30 into the game, with Morgan’s 10th goal of the season. Mattias Weinhandl, behind the net, fed Scott at the left point. Beckford-Tseu kicked out Scott’s blast, but Morgan pushed the rebound by the netminder.
Houston got its first power play off the ensuing faceoff, when Ryan Ramsay instigated a fight with Aaron Voros. That became 1:15 of a 5-on-3 after a hooking call to Birner. Beckford-Tseu made a fine stop on Curtis Murphy’s point-blank shot from the right circle.
After the advantage expired, Peoria’s Charles Linglet fired a rebound off the left post.
Olvecky made it a two-goal advantage with his ninth goal of the season, with 8:02 left in the opening period. Irmen created a 2-on-1 with a nice individual move and fed Olvecky at the right post. Beckford-Tseu twice denied Olvecky, who stuffed the third attempt under the netminder.
Olvecky has three goals in his last two games against Peoria, having scored twice in a 4-3 shootout win over the Rivermen on March 10.
Kochan was tested late in the first with Peoria on a power play, but he twice stoned Cam Keith from the right doorstep, and he gloved aside a deflection seconds later. Just ticks after that, Kochan somehow recovered to go post-to-post to disrupt Keith’s wraparound attempt at a seemingly open net.
Weinhandl hit the post with a chance to put the Aeros on top 3-0 with 90 seconds remaining in the first. However, Foy gave Houston that three-goal advantage with 39 ticks left, with great perseverance at the left doorstep. His third jab at a loose puck eluded Beckford-Tseu and trickled just over the line.
Foy’s goal gave him 63 in his Aeros career – he would later add No. 64 – breaking a tie with Brian Wiseman for fifth place on the team’s all-time list.
The Aeros enjoyed just their second two-goal first period in 17 games since February 17. Houston hadn’t scored three goals in a first period since December 22 versus Chicago.
Rivermen head coach Dave Baseggio – a former Aero – replaced Beckford-Tseu with Marek Schwarz to begin the second, and it brought some quick momentum to his team, which outshot the Aeros 20-5 in the second and outscored them 2-1.
Birner’s 11th of the season, with three seconds left on a Peoria power play 1:13 into the middle period, got Peoria on the board.
Foy answered right back, with his second of the night and team-leading 26th of the season, with Houston holding a man advantage. Benoit Pouliot kept the puck alive in the right circle to Erik Reitz, who let a wild shot go from the top of the circle. The shot was deflected to a waiting Foy in the left circle, and the winger easily deposited the puck into the net with 3:55 gone in the second.
Scott tangled with Peoria rookie Hans Benson – cousin of former Texas Longhorns running back Cedric Benson – with 8:45 left in the middle period.
Kochan made a fine blocker save on DiSalvatore’s right circle bullet in transition less than a minute later.
Stastny’s 11th of the season got Peoria within 4:34 left in the second. He took a pass from Ryan MacMurchy in the right circle and blistered a shot top shelf over Kochan. Just over a minute later, Mike Glumac nearly made it a one-goal game, but Kochan got his shoulder on the shot from the right side.
Peoria got a chance to get further back in the game with 13:50 remaining in regulation after a holding call to Irmen, but the Aeros killed off the chance.
Scott blocked a shot from defenseman Patrick Wellar in front to preserve the two-goal lead with 9:00 left. Less than a minute later, Kochan reached behind him to snare Stastny’s right circle drive.
Ramsay hit the post with 4:01 left, and Morgan went to the box on the play for hooking, but the Rivermen again couldn’t dent Kochan. Early in the advantage, he went post-to-post to stop Peoria’s leading scorer, Trent Whitfield, on a deflection attempt. Whitfield got loose on a short breakaway seconds later, but again Kochan was brilliant.
With 3:08 left on the power play nearly half over, Baseggio called a timeout and pulled Schwarz to set up a 6-on-4. Houston’s Shawn Belle then went for cross checking, setting up a 6-on-3 for 39 seconds, and Aeros head coach Rob Daum countered with a timeout.
Linglet, tied with Whitfield for the team lead with 29 goals, had a golden opportunity from the right doorstep, but Kochan did the splits to make the save. The Rivermen finally broke through, as DiSalvatore popped a rebound by Kochan for his 20th goal of the season with 2:22 left.
Schwarz went back briefly before heading to the bench again with 2:03 remaining to give Peoria a 6-4 advantage. However, Morgan stole the puck and fed Irmen for the game-sealing empty-netter with 1:20 left. The tally was Houston’s 15th shorthanded goal of the season – tying the team record set in 1994-95.
Weinhandl, with assists from Ryan Stokes and Bryan Lundbohm, tacked on an empty-net goal of his own with 21 ticks remaining.
Houston finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Peoria went 2-for-6. The Aeros are 3-for-26 in their last seven games with the man advantage. Notes:Not dressing for the Aeros were Ryan Hamilton, Josh Olson and Clayton Stoner. In addition to tripling his point total, Scott was plus-four. He is plus-seven in the Aeros’ last four contests. Former Aeros captain Kirby Law is up next on Foy’s march up the Aeros’ goal-scorer standings at 68. Murphy’s assist gave him a season-best five-game point streak (2-3=5). It’s one behind Foy’s team season-high. Houston improved to 2-5-1-0 in its last eight home games. The Aeros are 22-11-1-4 when scoring three or more goals, but 3-26-2-2 when scoring two or fewer. Foy tallied his sixth multiple-goal game. Besides Foy, only Weinhandl (three) has more than two. Houston improved to 7-22-2-2 this season in games in which goalie Josh Harding doesn’t play. Harding remains on recall to NHL Minnesota. Peoria rookie defenseman Steve Wagner, in just his fifth game, was a team-worst minus-five.