MILWAUKEE --- Casey Wellman scored with 1:21 left in regulation and Warren Peters
added an empty-netter to lift the Houston Aeros past the Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 on Tuesday at Bradley Center in Game 7 of the American Hockey League’s West Division Finals.
The victory advanced the Aeros to the Western Conference Finals against the Hamilton Bulldogs in a best-of-seven series that begins on Friday at Toyota Center. That marks the second time in three seasons the Aeros have reached the Conference Finals.
Wellman’s second postseason goal came after a scramble in front of Aeros goaltender Matt Hackett
. The Aeros cleared the defensive zone and Wellman raced ahead to beat Milwaukee netminder Jeremy Smith with a wrist shot.
Hackett made 30 saves in the win, while Smith stopped 36 in the losing effort.
The Admirals scored first on Gabriel Bourque’s seventh goal of the playoffs and second of the series at 8:02 of the first period. Houston broke through with 13 seconds left in the opening frame when Colton Gillies knocked down a Jared Spurgeon
shot and popped it home. The goal was Gillies’ team-leading sixth of the postseason.
After a scoreless second period, Houston’s Carson McMillan
broke the 1-1 tie with an unassisted goal at 3:18 of the third. The Admirals tied it up at 8:26 on Matt Halishuk’s power play goal. BOMB DROPPINGS
In Calder Cup Playoff action, the Aeros are 11-7 all-time in games when they can eliminate an opponent… Since joining the AHL, the Aeros are 5-0 in Game 7 situations. All five wins have been on the road… Houston has outshot their opponents in 10 of 11 playoff games including the last seven straight… The Aeros allowed the first goal for the eighth time in the playoffs. Remarkably, they are 6-2 when opponents score first… Milwaukee’s Blake Geoffrion and Matt Halischuk were both reassigned to Milwaukee from NHL Nashville earlier in the day. AEROS STARTERS
F – Gillies, Ortmeyer, Peters
D – Scandella, Noreau
G - Hackett AEROS SCRATCHES
Fraser, Penner, Lofquist, Foucault, Campbell, Fredheim, Morency, Buck, Kassian, Broda, Cuma, Daoust NEXT GAME
Western Conference Finals – Game 1
Fri., May 13, 7:35 p.m., Toyota Center
Vs. Hamilton DECIDING GOAL
Wellman (18:39, 3rd) POWER PLAYS
MIL: 1/4 GOALIES
HOU: Hackett (30/32, W)
MIL: Smith (36/39, L) SERIES
HOU wins 4-3