FRI, at ROC, 6:35 p.m. (Broadcast joined in progress at 7 p.m.)
Houston kicks off a brief three-game road trip with a game in Rochester. The Aeros and Amerks play just twice a year, but it’s become one of the more entertaining rivalries. Each of the last five meetings has either been decided by one goal, or ended in a tie. The teams split two games in 2004-05, with Houston winning 2-1 in Rochester in November, and the Amerks returning the favor at Toyota Center, 3-2, in December. Rochester is in third place in the AHL’s North Division at 13-10-0-0 for 26 points. Three of the Amerks’ top four scorers are currently with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Rochester leads the AHL with a sparkling 25.8 power play percentage. SAT, at HAM, 6 p.m.
The Aeros finally make their much anticipated return trip to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, site of their 3-0 Game 7 win over the Bulldogs in the 2003 Calder Cup Finals on June 12, 2003. Houston went 2-2 in Hamilton in the seven-game thriller, winning the championship in front of 17,428. Members of that Aeros’ team still with the organization are Curtis Murphy, Erik Reitz, assistant coach Matt Shaw, special assistant to hockey Cam Stewart, athletic trainer Jerry Meins and equipment manager Rick Bronwell. This will mark the first-ever regular-season meeting between Houston and Hamilton. The Bulldogs are winless in their last four (0-3-0-1) and have just one win in their last 11 games (1-9-0-1). SUN, at CLE, 4 p.m.
The Aeros are 4-4-0-0 all-time in Cleveland, but just 1-3-0-0 in the last four meetings. Houston won the last trip there November 23, 2004, 3-2 in a shootout. The Barons are 2-7-1-1 in their last 11 after losing a pair of games to Houston last week, while going 1-0-0-1 in San Antonio. After this game, the Aeros will play only eight non West Division opponents the rest of the season.
All Aeros games are broadcast live on KNTH 1070-AM and through aeros.com
. For $6, you can also watch the game live via B2 Networks. Visit aeros.com
10 minutes prior to gametime to order. Notables -Since missing five games due to injury in late October and early November, Aeros second-year G Josh Harding is 8-2-0 with a 1.90 gaa to move to 13-5-0 on the season. Harding, who leads the AHL with 13 victories, has 34 wins overall with the Aeros, tied with Manny Fernandez and Troy Gamble for third place on the team’s all-time list. Harding is second overall on the Aeros’ AHL wins list, trailing only Derek Gustafson (37). Harding is 19-5-1 in his last 25 regular-season games. He’s tied for 10th this season in the AHL in gaa (2.45) and is sixth in save pct (.924). Through the season’s first 25 games, the Aeros have three hat tricks - two by LW Roman Voloshenko and C Patrick O’Sullivan’s first career hat trick Wednesday against Cleveland. Each of Houston’s last four hat tricks have been accomplished by rookies, as LW Bill Kinkel notched one 3/30/05. C Erik Westrum reclaimed the AHL’s points lead with a goal and two assists Sunday, giving him 36 points (12-24=36). Westrum had just 33 points (18-15=33) while playing all 80 games last season with Utah. Houston is 8-0-0-0 when LW Roman Voloshenko scores a goal, and a perfect 12-0-0-0 when he gets at least one point. At least one of the trio of Voloshenko, C Erik Westrum and RW Kirby Law has scored a goal in 20 of the team’s 26 games. The Aeros have 36 points through 26 games, trailing only their 1998-99 season (19-3-4=42). Houston was 16-8-2 for 34 points in its 2002-03 Calder Cup championship season. Houston is 10-2-1-1 this season at home, and in its last 22 regular-season games at Toyota Center dating back to the last season, it has lost only twice in regulation (16-2-1-3). Going back further, the Aeros are 23-5-1-3 in their last 32 regular-season home games since losing 5-3 to Milwaukee last 2/4. Aeros rookie C Patrick O’Sullivan has 14 points (7-7=14) in his last 10 games. The Aeros have killed off 48-of-49 shorthanded chances (98.0 percent) in their last eight home games, with the lone goal coming on a five-minute power play Wednesday against Cleveland. D Curtis Murphy picked up an assist Sunday, giving him 120 points in two-plus seasons with the Aeros. He’s now tied with Travis Roche as the third-leading defensive scorer in team history. He and Roche are the top two blueline scorers in the Aeros’ AHL history.
Player of the Week C Patrick O’Sullivan
11/30 vs. CLE 3-0=3, +3
12/4 vs. CLE 0-2=2, +1
Totals 2gp, 3-2=5, +4
Totaled five points (3-2=5) and was plus-four in only two games last week as Aeros went 2-0-0-0...Notched first career hat trick in Wednesday’s 7-2 rout of Cleveland...Tacked on two assists in 5-2 win over Barons on Sunday...Ranks sixth among AHL rookies with 21 points (10-11=21) in 24 games...Aeros’ fourth-leading scorer...Plus-six rating ranks tied for second on Houston’s roster.
Aeros sweep Barons, lead West by five points
HOU 7, CLE 2, HOU 5, CLE 2
Houston won its only two games last week, rolling to 7-2 and 5-2 wins over Cleveland. The Aeros enter this week 17-7-1-1 for 36 points - five clear of second-place Peoria, which has four games in hand on the Aeros.
Wednesday: Twenty-year-old rookie Patrick O’Sullivan tallied a hat trick, Kirby Law added two goals and Erik Westrum and Josh Olson also scored, as the Houston Aeros rolled to a 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Barons at Toyota Center. Josh Harding made 20 saves for Houston (16-7-1-1).
Sunday: Westrum posted a goal and two assists, Law contributed a goal and a helper and O’Sullivan added two assists, as the Houston Aeros knocked off the Cleveland Barons 5-2 at Toyota Center. Rem Murray, Bryan Lundbohm and Roman Voloshenko also scored, and Harding made 17 saves for Houston, which went 3-1-0-0 on its four-game homestand.
Aeros’ Practice schedule:
Monday - 1-2, Sugar Land
Tuesday - 10-11:30, Sugar Land
Wednesday - 10-11:30, Sugar Land
Thursday - Travel Day
Friday - at ROC, 6:35 p.m.
Saturday - at HAM, 6 p.m.
Sunday - at CLE, 4 p.m.
---HOUSTON AEROS, BE A FAN---