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Aeros Camp Opens With 37 Players

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild


Four former first-round picks, solid veteran core to take to ice

HOUSTON, Texas – The American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros open up training camp Wednesday with a 1-3 p.m. skate at their official training facility, Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center. Thirty-eight players (PDF Roster, PDF Bios) are expected to take the ice for three days of drills and scrimmages in advance of Saturday’s pre-season game against San Antonio in Sugar Land at 6 p.m.

Houston Aeros Training Camp Roster (38)

Goalies (4): Miroslav Kopriva, Tom Lawson, Tony Quesada, Matthew Yeats

Defensemen (11): Paul Albers, Jean-Francois David, Henrik Ivarsson, Mike Madill, Curtis Murphy, Chris Ovington, Peter Ratchuk, Erik Reitz, John Scott, Ryan Stokes, A.J. Thelen

Forwards (23): Kevin Baker, Mike Bayrack, Justin Blacklock, Britt Dougherty, Riley Emmerson, Matt Foy, Ryan Hamilton, Leon Hayward, Danny Irmen, Alex Leavitt, Bryan Lundbohm, Jason Morgan, Josh Olson, Peter Olvecky, Benoit Pouliot, Mark Rooneem, Marco Rosa, Andre Selander, Alexei Smirnov, Joey Tetarenko, Ben Thomson, Michael Tucciarone and Roman Voloshenko

Sixteen of the 38 in camp played at least one game with the Aeros last season, including three-time First Team All-AHL defenseman and two-time Eddie Shore winner Curtis Murphy, rookie standout Roman Voloshenko and defenseman Erik Reitz, the leading penalty-getter in the Aeros’ AHL history. Also in camp are two-thirds of last season’s acclaimed checking line – Bryan Lundbohm and Josh Olson. The third member of the group, Joel Ward, is still in camp with the Minnesota Wild.

Four players in camp were selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Leading the way is left wing Benoit Pouliot (ben-WAH, POOL-ee-ott), the fourth overall pick in 2005. Pouliot saw action in two post-season games for the Aeros in 2006. Defenseman A.J. Thelen was taken 12th by Minnesota in 2004. He played one regular season game for the Aeros last season.

Also attending camp is Alexei Smirnov, taken 12th overall by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2000. Smirnov, fresh off training camp with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, was part of the 2004 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks team that defeated the Aeros in the playoffs. The fourth former first-rounder is defenseman Peter Ratchuk, the 25th overall pick in 1996 by the Colorado Avalanche. Ratchuk has spent the last three seasons playing in Germany, but boasts 338 games of AHL experience.

The Aeros’ training camp roster also includes a second-round pick (Roman Voloshenko) and a pair of third-round picks (Danny Irmen and Peter Olvecky).

Talented newcomers dot the landscape as well, including veteran center Jason Morgan, with nearly 600 games of professional experience and a former captain in Norfolk. Another newcomer is 2005-06 ECHL Rookie of the Year Alex Leavitt, whose 91 points helped him become the first league rookie in 15 years to win the scoring title. Leavitt helped lead his Alaska Aces won the Kelly Cup title.

Included on the Aeros’ roster are players from their affiliates in ECHL Texas (Kevin Baker, Mike Bayrack, Jean-Francois David, Leon Hayward, Marco Rosa and Matthew Yeats), and CHL Austin (Britt Dougherty, Michael Tucciarone).

The youngest player in camp is Pouliot, who will turn 20 on Friday. Curtis Murphy, 30, is the oldest player in camp, with a trio of 29-year-olds in Lundbohm, Ratchuk and Morgan close behind. The shortest Aero in camp is 5-foot-7 Ben Thomson, who played for Aeros head coach Rob Daum at the University of Alberta, while the tallest is 6-foot-8 Riley Emmerson, the tallest player in the history of the Minnesota Wild organization. Leavitt is the lightest player in camp at 175 pounds, while hulking 6-foot-7, 255-pound rookie defenseman John Scott is the heaviest.

Houston Aeros Training Camp Schedule (all practices at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center)
Wednesday, 9/27 – 1-3 p.m.
Thursday, 9/28 – 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Friday, 9/29 – 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Saturday, 9/30 – 10-11:30 a.m., pre-season game vs. San Antonio in Sugar Land, 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10/1 – 10-11:30 a.m., pre-season game at San Antonio in Northwoods, 5 p.m.
Monday, 10/2 – 1-3 p.m.
Tuesday, 10/3 – 10 a.m.-noon
Wednesday, 10/4 – 10 a.m.-noon

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