Monday, February 9, 2009

Aeros v. Chicago Wolves - Game 53

So, I spent Sunday morning working on my next PHN article, toiling with the notion that the team is actually WORSE in 5 on 5 scoring with the return of Kolanos and Pouliot and the trade of Hamilton for Earl. I was searching for answers (heart? skill? professionalism? what?), but what I knew for sure was that this Aeros team couldn't score if you dropped 'em in the middle of a Puck Bunny convention.

I watched the first period in real time and the boys looked pretty good by the end of it, though they struggled to get any time in Chicago's end early on. Then I had to go to dinner not long after the second started when it was still 1-1.

I came home assuming it's a loss or it went to the shootout or some annoying outcome and nearly fell out of my chair when I refreshed the Gamesheet page I'd left open on my laptop. 6-3 Aeros win. Four goals in the third period.

And then while I'm OMGing about that, I skim the list of goal scorers and see.... M. Kassian. I blink a couple of times to make sure I'm seeing right. M. Kassian.



So just when we're back to thinking this team is a bunch of blind squirrels, they find a giant nest of nuts in Chicago. Lammers and Rosa, both of whom needed some points, got the first two goals.

Schultz got a really pretty one against his former team at the top of the third, after a Chicago player turned the puck over to Kolanos by the net and Schultz came in to punch in Kolanos' feed across the slot. Beauty! I love it when a plan comes together.

The fourth Aeros goal was courtesy of Locke on a Kolanos rebound during a PP opportunity.

Schultz got his second of the night, on a terrific feed from Ryznar right on Pavlec's doorstep. Love got the second assist for a nifty pass up to Ryz from the high slot. Another beauty of a play. At this point, it's clear that the Chicago defense has already hit the showers. If I'm Pavlec, I've got steam coming out my ears.

And then... the real capper... a little over a minute later, Kassian strong-armed the puck away from a Chicago player along the boards, headed for the net with two more Wolves circling him, and just jammed it home five-hole on a seemingly surprised Pavlec. Man, you hate to be the goalie on which the team's enforcer gets his first goal of the season 53 games in.

But it's been coming. Matt is so big and strong and just goes to the net and shoots, and eventually that work was going to pay off. Wish it had happened at home so Aeros fans could celebrate with him, but I'm sure the boys saw to it that it was appropriately recognized.

Anyway, super exciting game, and Kurtis Foster's amazing, hard-earned return to pro hockey was really just the icing on the cake. What a great story and a stud he is! And huge kudos to his trainers and rehab folks for creating a program to get him back. It's astounding and if he doesn't win the Masterton this season, they're simply doing it wrong. I'm not all that great at hockey history, but a return from an injury this catastrophic is surely unprecedented.

And it can safely be said, the guy still has a killer slapshot. He ripped one off in the second that sent Grant Stevenson crumpling to the ice. I hate to see guys get hurt, but somehow I make an exception for booming slapshots hitting defenders. Screw you, hoser. Stop screening my goalie.

He also was hitting, being hit, generally NOT avoiding physical play, and made a really solid block on a breakaway attempt where he dropped to the ice and went careening into the boards behind the net with a Chicago player. Good, heroic stuff.

Of course, he had some rust, and some timing and decision-making issues, but good heavens, he contributed more than he didn't.

Scratches were Pouliot, Irmen, Mojzis, Madsen, and Scotty.

Oh, and BTW, this was Schaefer's third game in three nights and he played VERY well the last two nights, stopping 32 of 34 Saturday and 23 of 26 Sunday. But I'm starting to wonder if Brusty's ever going to play again. He seems to really have pissed Constantine off a couple of weeks ago. And rightly so. I'm still convinced that he plays better in "save the day" mode than as the #1 goalie.

UPDATE: Here's a link to a Chicago blogger's post about the game from their perspective, including photos! Nice!


Anonymous  February 9, 2009 at 12:15 PM  

Congrats to Kassian! He's been getting good shots on net. Great to see them finally start to go in.

John Royal  February 9, 2009 at 1:31 PM  

Matt's The Man! I just wish it would have been here because it would have been fun talking to him in the locker room after that. I'm sure I would have got some good quotes, though he's always good for quips no matter what.

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