Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Aeros v. Iowa Chops - Game 8

The one thing that's consistent with last year's Aeros is that each game you show up to, you don't know which Aeros team is going to be on the ice. Tonight, in spite of some significant offensive absences (Locke, Hamilton, and Kolanos are all out injured or sick), the "Good Aeros" showed up and won 3-1.

As asst. coach Troy Ward told Joe O'Donnell after the game, sometimes a situation like this, having top offensive guys out of the line-up fires up guys who see it as an opportunity to get more time to show their stuff. And indeed they did. John Lammers, Morten Madsen, and defenseman Maxim Noreau each had one goal and one assist for the night.

Marco Rosa would have joined the two-pointers list but his goal was waved off as Matt Kassian was tagged for unintentional goaltender interference. I just happened to be watching him struggle to get to his feet and get out of the paint before his teammates got a shot off. I think he had maybe half a skate in the crease when Rosa's shot went in from the high slot, so it was a good call (ETA: unless you go with Fred's compelling case based on the actual rulebook rather than my own anecdotal experience... more on this later... I gotta git to Dallas) but you wouldn't want the game decided on it.

The team looked a ton better tonight. They were a little slow coming out in the second, but picked it up in just a few minutes. The defense was oppressive, like you expect the Aeros defense to be. They just gave the Chops no space to work, and when they did, Nolan Schaefer was so hot in goal, he stopped all but one shot, which came from the stick of Bobby Ryan on a long 3 on 4 Chops power play.

And speaking of Ryan, he looks like a man among boys on this Chops team. Why is he not in the NHL? I was nervous every time he touched the puck.

The game was penalty-laden with 29 infractions overall, the Aeros having the man advantage 10 times (with all three goals coming on the PP), and the Chops getting 8 PP chances resulting in the one aforementioned goal. The refs were calling everything, and honestly, most of it seemed pretty legit. The ones that I saw take place, anyway. But not much got past them. That's for sure.

And that's probably a good thing because there was already no shortage of gloves hitting the ice. First, the Chops' Brennan Evans goes after (total non-fighter and veteran leader) Bryan Lundbohm for a hit he had on one of the other Chops players, but Evans basically jumped him at center ice. Lundy dropped the mitts, but got socked in the face HARD right away and ended up leaving for the locker room with 8+ left in the second period even though his penalty was only 5 minutes.

Then Mitch Love and Troy Bodie went at the beginning of the third, but that was essentially a draw. That still didn't settle it so finally Kassian and Evans drop the gloves and Kass just completely schooled Evans. I mean, gave him a beating he's not going to forget soon. Kassian is a beast. And then they yelled at each other for seemingly the duration of their time in the box. Good stuff.

Bottom line: The Aeros did exactly what Constantine asked for on Sunday: They paid the price. They blocked shots fearlessly, they sacrificed and killed penalties deader than dead. And the guys with offensive talent did their thing at the other end of the ice, too. And they stood up for each other. That looks to me like the emergence of the "personality" KC was looking for, right?

Scratches: Crowley, Hamilton (injured), Locked (injured), Kolanos (sick)
Starters: Schaefer, Lundbohm, Ryznar, Irmen, Albers, Stoner
Captain: Rogers
Stars: 1 - Madsen, 2 - Lammers, 3 - Schaefer (I think I might have reversed this order... Schaefer was AMAZING)

Andrew's article in the Chronicle
Royal's blog on the game
Houston Press article
Fred's photos from the game


Meanwhile, the illustrious Mike Russo did a great feature on Cal for tomorrow's Strib. Just try and resist the Clutter Fever... I think I'm running about 102 tonight. Except it's just a regular fever. Bleh. Clutter Fever is more fun. Trust me.

And one final nugget for those who made it this far, but one that I don't really know what to make of: I sat this evening next to Gordie Roberts, a pro scout for the Montreal Canadiens who lives in Minnesota. Now, if you've paid attention to the Gaby trade rumors, you've heard Montreal a lot. So... ya know, maybe they're digging through the Minnesota cupboards a bit?

Of course, I didn't realize who he was when he turned and said hello to me at the beginning of the game and I kinda blew him off because I'm feeling like crap and just wanted to sit like the lump of overheated human I was feeling like. Of course, now I'm kicking myself. The guy has a monstrous NHL career, has coached in the NHL, has two Stanley Cups, etc. Jesus am I a schmuck or what? Don't tell me. I already know. Of course, I would have asked him something dumb like, "How many of those teeth are yours?"

But I can tell you, he was damned impressed with the Aeros' last penalty kill where EVERY Aeros player was dropping to the ice and blocking shots like mad men. He said something about how they all look like goalies out there. Yep. Welcome to Aeros Hockey, Mr. Roberts, at least when the "Good Aeros" show up.


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