WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREIVEW
THE HOUSTON AEROS AND MANITOBA MOOSE
This week’s games
For the second series in a row the Houston Aeros played all seven games and came out victorious, this time over the Milwaukee Admirals in the West Division Finals. The Game 7 win marked only the third time in AHL history – second for the Aeros – that a team has won two Game 7s on the road in a single post season. Wednesday’s win sends Houston to their first Western Conference Finals since 2003 to face the Manitoba Moose who have sat idle since last Wednesday after sweeping Grand Rapids.
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. W3-Houston Aeros Game 1 – Fri., May 15 – Houston at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 – Sat., May 16 – Houston at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. Game 3 – Mon., May 18 – Manitoba at Houston, 7:05 p.m. (Ticket I)
Game 4 – Wed., May 20 – Manitoba at Houston, 7:05 p.m. (Ticket J)
*Game 5 – Fri., May 22 – Manitoba at Houston, 7:35 p.m. (Ticket K)
*Game 6 – Mon., May 25 – Houston at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 7 – Wed., May 27 – Houston at Manitoba, 7:30 p.m. *- If necessary, All times Central Call (713) 974-PUCK for tickets or click here for more information.
Entering the series Houston’s Corey Locke leads the league in both points (15) and goals (9) with 11 of those points and five goals coming on power plays. Aeros’ regular season leader in goals – Krys Kolanos – ranks tied for second in the playoffs with six markers, one of which a game-winner. Rookie goaltender Anton Khudobin has posted a record of 8-6 so far this post season. Khudobin ranks eighth in the league with a .911 save percentage (SV%) and ninth with a 2.48 goals against average (GAA).
The Aeros and Moose have only met once before during playoff action, the 2001 Turner Cup Conference Semifinals. Houston took a 3-1 lead in the series before allowing Manitoba to take three straight games for the Aeros only series loss after leading three games to one. The Aeros went 1-3 at home in the series with each team netting nine goals. Houston was 2-1 in Manitoba with seven goals for and six against.
During the 2008-09 regular season Houston and Manitoba faced off four times with the Moose winning each. The Aeros were able to eek out a point in a shootout loss on December 4 but lost the other three by two goals apiece. Aeros forward Krys Kolanos led both teams in points during the four pairings with five (3 goals, 2 assists) and was matched with three goals by Manitoba’s Mario Bliznak.
Each team played a pair of goaltenders in the season series with Houston’s Nolan Schaefer posting a 3.05 GAA and a .909 SV% in two losses and Barry Brust tallying a 2.95 GAA and a .880 SV% with a 0-1-1 record. Karl Goehring, who was traded to San Antonio mid-season, had a 2.40 GAA and an. 889 SV% in two wins including the shootout while Corey Schneider posted a 2.00 GAA and a .905 SV% with a pair of victories over Houston.
The Aeros were 2-for-17 on power plays for an 11.8% conversion rate and successfully killed 21-of-23 short handed situations for a 91.3% penalty kill. Manitoba outshot Houston 120-87 in the four regular season games. The Moose also outscored the Aeros 16-9 for a 13.3% shot percentage compared to Houston’s 10.3%.
Houston took a 3-1 lead through four games after winning Game 1 in Milwaukee and the first two at home – Games 3 and 4. The Admirals took Game 5 in Houston and forced a Game 7 after a 7-0 victory on home ice in Game 6. The Aeros were outscored 19-16 in the series but allowed two goals or fewer in their four victories, including one shutout. Houston was outshot in the series 215-154 but posted a 10.4% shot percentage compared to Milwaukee’s 8.8%. The series win was Houston’s second of four all-time playoff meetings between the teams. The Game 7 victory also improved Houston’s record to 6-1 in such games, 4-0 since joining the AHL.