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Aeros Look to Close Out Series

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild

MAY 20, 2011
HOUSTON AEROS (2nd seed, West Division)
vs. HAMILTON BULLDOGS (1st seed, North Division)

The Houston Aeros and Hamilton Bulldogs clash in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. The series is a best-of-seven series with a 2-3-2 format in which the Aeros have home ice advantage.

Houston swept the Peoria Rivermen 4-0 in the first round and edged Milwaukee in seven games in the second round. Hamilton edged OKC 4-2 in round one and then defeated Manitoba in seven games in round two. Both teams won their respective Game 7’s in round two to reach the Conference Finals. For the Aeros, Casey Wellman’s deciding goal came with 1:21 left in regulation. Dustin Boyd scored for Hamilton six seconds into the third OT.

--- In 1987, Copps Coliseum was the primary host for the Canada Cup ice hockey tournament and was the site of Mario Lemieux's famous goal that beat the Soviets 6-5 in the decisive game.
--- This is the fourth time the Aeros have faced a Canadian team in the playoffs. Houston defeated Hamilton in the 2003 Calder Cup Finals. The other two series were against Manitoba.

--- The Aeros are 6-5 in Game 5 situations in the Calder Cup Playoffs, including a 1-1 record on the road.
--- HAM’S 8-1 win in Game 4 was the largest margin of defeat in a playoff game for the Aeros since May 11, 2009, in a 7-0 loss at MIL.
---- Including IHL Playoff series, the Aeros are 3-1 in Game 4 situations when holding a 3-0 series lead. The only Game 4 loss came in 1997 against San Antonio in the second round. Houston clinched the series with a Game 5 victory.
--- Houston has outshot their opponents in 10 of 15 playoff games.
--- Opponents have scored first nine times, but the Aeros have won six of those games.
--- The Aeros are 7-1 in games decided by one goal.
--- Houston joined the Maine Mariners (5-0) as the only franchises in AHL history to win five Game 7’s in their history without a loss, and the Aeros became the first team ever with five Game 7 road victories to its credit.
--- Games 4, 5 and 6 versus MIL went to overtime, which set an Aeros playoff record for consecutive playoff overtime games.
--- Game 5 versus MIL was the 14th-longest overtime game in Aeros history.

--- Jared Spurgeon has a five-game assist streak.
--- In Game 2 vs. HAM, Matt Kassian made his first appearance in the lineup since Game 4 of the opening round series versus Peoria.
--- Jon DiSalvatore, Robbie Earl and Colton Gillies each have registered two-goal games. No Aeros player has ever recorded a hat trick in the postseason.

Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild)
Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens)

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
Game 1 – Fri., May 13 – Hamilton 1 at Houston 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 15 – Hamilton 2 at Houston 3
Game 3 – Tue., May 17 – Houston 3 at Hamilton 2
Game 4 – Wed., May 18 – Houston 1 at Hamilton 8
*Game 5 – Fri., May 20 – Houston at Hamilton, 6:30 PM
*Game 6 – Sun., May 22 – Hamilton at Houston, 4:05 PM
*Game 7 – Tue., May 24 – Hamilton at Houston, 7:05 PM

Houston meets Hamilton for a berth in the 2011 Calder Cup Finals, the teams’ first postseason collision since the Aeros won a seven-game Calder Cup Finals series in 2003. The Aeros are in the conference finals for the second time in three seasons and fourth time since joining the AHL. The Bulldogs are making their second straight appearance and fifth in the last 10 years.

--- Matt Hackett went 4-0 in the first round versus PEO with a 1.68 GAA and .932 SV%.
--- Hackett was 4-3 versus MIL in the second round with a 2.66 GAA and .881 SV%.
--- On the road, Hackett is 5-3 on the road with a 2.79 GAA and .886 SV%.
--- At home, Hackett is 6-1 with a 2.03 GAA and .918 SV%.
--- Hackett’s 38-save effort in Game 1 versus HAM included 20 stops in the third period alone. The 21 shots he faced were one short of a franchise playoff record for shots allowed in a period.
--- Hackett’s 21-save shutout in Game 2 versus MIL as his first as a pro in the postseason and Houston’s first since May 7, 2009, when the Aeros blanked the Admirals 2-0 at Toyota Center in Game 4 of the West Division Finals. It was their 14th shutout overall.
--- Hackett went 1-0-0 against the Bulldogs with a 0.69 GAA and .973 SV% in two appearances during the regular season.
--- Josh Tordjman was 4-1-0 in six overall appearances during the regular season.

The Hamilton Bulldogs scored three goals in both the first and second periods en route to an 8-1 victory over the Houston Aeros in Game 4 of the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals on Wednesday at Copps Coliseum. The win by Hamilton ruined Houston’s attempt to sweep the series and forced Game 5 on Friday at Hamilton at 6:30 p.m. CST. Aaron Palushaj potted the game-winner and delivered two assists. Palushaj’s goal at 15:09 of the first period stood up as the game-winner. Dustin Boyd had two goals and added a pair of assists for the Bulldogs while linemate Nigel Dawes finished with two goals.


POWER PLAY --- Is 5/16 versus HAM… Went 6/32 versus MIL in round 2… Went 3/24 versus PEO in the opening round… Ranked 6th (20.2%) in the regular season… Jon DiSalvatore led the team with 14 PPG… Finished the season with goals in six-straight to set a season-high streak (18/45)…Also had goals in six-straight from Feb. 22-Mar. 4…  Had multiple PPG in 16 games and was 12-2-0-2 in those games.

PENALTY KILL --- HAM is 2/15… MIL went 4/30 in round 2… The Ads scored a SHG in Game 5… PEO went 3/12 on the PP in the first round… Ranked 22nd (81.0%) in the regular season… Carson McMillan led the team with three SHG… Opponents were 16/46 on the PP in the final eight games of the season… Allowed at least a goal in a season-high seven straight (Mar. 22 – Apr. 2)… Held opponents to one or no PPG in 15 straight games until TOR went 2-for-5 on Jan. 23.

--- The teams met twice in a one week span in December and split the games (Dec. 14 at HAM, 3-1 HOU win; Dec. 21 at HOU, 5-0 HAM win).
--- HOU went 0/7 on the PP while HAM went 1/7. HAM scored a pair of SHG on Dec. 21.
--- Matt Hackett earned the win on Dec. 14 and entered the game on Dec. 21 in a relief role.
--- Curtis Sanford appeared in both games in goal for HAM. He is out with a shoulder injury and has not played since Feb. 26.

Follow the Aeros on News Talk 1070 KNTH and online at AEROS.COM with Joe O’Donnell providing the play-by-play call. Watch every game online at


The Aeros finished the regular season with a 46-28-1-5 (98 pts.) record for the No. 2 spot in the West Division. The Aeros had the most wins in both the division and the Western Conference. Only two other teams finished with more wins (WBS – 58, Portland -47). Milwaukee won the West Division title for the fourth time in eight years and topped 100 points for the fifth time since 2003-04. They finished with a 44-22-6-8 record.

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