When the Aeros play host to league-leading Grand Rapids Monday at 7 p.m., there will be several groups of youth represented thanks to the Houston Chronicle. The newspaper purchased 1,000 tickets to be distributed to Houston-area youth and charity organizations with the team's help. The Aeros would like to thank the Chronicle and all "Tickets for Kids" participants. Houston plays twice at home in the upcoming week, also taking on San Antonio on Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series with serious playoff implications.
For a printable PDF version of the Aeros Weekly Report, please click here.
This week on aeros.com Its a busy week on www.aeros.com. Make sure to send in your questions for Chris Bala to firstname.lastname@example.org, for this week's Q&A session that will be posted Thursday. The deadline for questions is Wednesday at 1 p.m. Also Wednesday, check out www.aeros.com for a feature story on Derek The Boogeyman Boogaard. You'll hear all about his now famous penalty shot and his fighting techniques. Its all this week on www.aeros.com, your complete source for information on the Houston Aeros. If youre not signed up for Aeros Afterburner exclusive online newsletter, click here.
Aeros split two, maintain fourth-place positioning
Week in review: GR 3, HOU 1; HOU 5, UTA 0
The Aeros split two games last week, moving to 58 points, in fourth place in the West Division. The top five teams each make the post-season.
West Standings, as of 3/8
X-Grand Rapids 86
San Antonio 55
X Clinched playoff berth
The week ended with a resounding 5-0 victory over the Utah Grizzlies at Toyota Center. Johan Holmqvist made 24 saves for his third shutout of the season, Mark Cullens three assists led to $150 for Sunshine Kids and five different Aeros scored (Jeff Hoggan, Jason Beckett, Marc Cavosie, Kyle Wanvig, Chris Heid).
Holmqvist made 11 saves in the first, eight in the second and five in the third for his ninth career shutout second against Utah.
The Aeros tied their season-high for goals in a game with five, and also enjoyed their largest margin of victory in the 2003-04 campaign.
Jason Bacashihua turned aside 46 shots for the Grizzlies, who were outshot 51-24. Friday, Tomas Kopecky scored early in the third period on the power play after Jiri Hudler tied the game with 22 seconds left in the second, as the AHL-leading Grand Rapids Griffins rallied for a 3-1 victory over the Aeros at Toyota Center.
Joey MacDonald made 27 saves and Kory Karlander added an empty netter for Grand Rapids.
Rickard Wallin scored his fourth goal in as many games and Kyle Kettles finished with 34 saves for the Aeros, who had their three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1-0) snapped.
MON, HOU vs. GR, 7:00 p.m.
Grand Rapids enters the week with a league-leading 86 points, five ahead of Hartford for the race for the Kilpatrick Trophy. Houston and Cincinnati are the only teams with three wins against Grand Rapids this season, and the Aeros will try to be the first with four Monday. The Griffins are led by a group of veterans including winger Michel Picard (13+32=45). All Star Nathan Robinson (21+21=42), who missed three meetings last month with Houston with a groin injury, has returned. Joey MacDonald is 19-4-3 with a sparkling 1.87 between the pipes, and starter Marc Lamothe was sent back from Detroit Saturday. Lamothe, who is 19-12-5 with a 1.86 goals against average, has nine career wins against the Aeros - the most of any active AHL netminder. MacDonald and Lamothe have combined for eight shutouts.
FRI, vs. SAN, 7:00 p.m.
Guns N Hoses Night
The Aeros look to improve on their all-time 8-2-0-0 home mark against the Rampage in a game with big playoff implications. San Antonio enters the week three points back of Houston in the West, tied with Cincinnati for fifth place.
SAT, at SAN, 7:00 p.m.
The Aeros 5-2 win at SBC Center February 27 was their second in the last eight trips to San Antonio (2-2-3-1). Houston has just one regulation loss this season in eight games against the Rampage (4-1-2-1).
Sunshine is out for Cullen The Aeros announced last week that an anonymous donor was going to give $100 for every Mark Cullen goal and $50 for every assist to Sunshine Kids, which helps children with cancer and their families. Sunshine Kids benefited $150 in Saturday nights 5-0 win over Utah. Cullen posted three assists to tie a career-high, and his three points were one off his career-best total of four. Cullen has 14 more regular-season games, plus the post-season, to pile up the cash for Sunshine Kids. Cullen had malignant melanoma last fall.
Aeros, Ducks, Rampage, Grizzlies in a playoff dog-fight Houston has 58 points, three more than fifth-place Cincinnati and San Antonio and seven more than Utah in the West Division. The Aeros have the most advantageous schedule left they have six games left against teams with a better than .500 record. Cincinnati, meanwhile, still has 11 road games left and also 10 against teams at the .500 mark of above. The top five teams in the West make the playoffs, with the fourth- and fifth-place team playing a three-game qualifying series at the higher seed. Home ice will be important, since the four teams chasing the two playoff spots are a combined 38 games under .500. Houstons highest position this season was third on December 30.
Houston 58 points (14 games left, 8H, 6R)
GR (2H/0R), MIL (1H/0R), UTA (1H/0R), SA (2H/2R), CIN (2H/1R), WOR (0H/1R), NOR (0H/2R)
Cincinnati 55 points (18 games left, 7H, 11R);
CHI (1H/1R), MIL (0H/1R), CLE (4H/1R), UTA (1H/2R), GR (0H/2R), SA (0H/2R), HOU (1H/2R)
San Antonio 55 points (18 games left, 9H, 9R)
MIL (2H/1R), HOU (2H/2R), CHI (1H/3R), GR (1H/1R), UTA (1H/2R), CIN (2H/0R)
Utah 51 points (16 games left, 9H, 7R)
MIL (3H/1R), HOU (0H/1R), SA (2H/1R), CIN (2H/1R), CHI (0H/2R), GR (2H/0R), CLE (0H/1R)
Celebrity Waiter is Tuesday at the Warwick Hotel. Cocktails begin at 6:30 p.m. Aeros players and coaches, as well as minority owner Chuck Watson and president Tom Garrity, will serve as the wait staff for the patrons. All waiters will serve tables for the generous tips of the patrons. The Celebrity Waiter Auction and Dinner benefits T-Care, the Espiritu de Salud Mobile Clinic and Houston Aeros Charities.
Wednesday, several Aeros, led by Chris Bala and Jason Beckett, will be visiting Shriners Hospital at 6977 Main St. at 1 p.m. The players will play hockey with the children in physical therapy and will also play Playstation and basketball with the kids.
Tuesday through Thursday of this week, the Aeros will be visiting 25 schools in the Humble ISD.
Pouring it on The Aeros 5-0 win over Utah Saturday was their largest margin of victory since beating the Grizzlies 6-0 in West Valley City on March 29, 2003. Houston last won a home game by five goals back on January 19, 2003, earning a 6-1 decision over Manitoba.
Alumni update - Stephane Veilleux, who still leads the Aeros in scoring, has one assist and nine penalty minutes in five games with the Minnesota Wild. Veilleux fought the Kings Sean Avery last week. Rickard Wallin, meanwhile, made his 2003-04 Wild debut in yesterdays 1-1 loss in Phoenix. Wallin centered a line with Veilleux and Marian Gaborik. Wallin also played with Minnesota in 2002-03, scoring on his first shot, before suffering a broken arm in his fourth game.
Player of the week G Johan Holmqvist -
Made 24 saves for third shutout of season in 5-0 win over Utah on Saturday
Is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 goals against average in his last two starts
Holmqvist leads the AHL in minutes played (3,002) and is fourth in saves (1,235). Hes just 16 saves away from his career-high 1,251 in the 2001-02 season
Holmqvists current 2.56 goals against average is a career best...His three shutouts this season tie a career-best, set last season.
Holmqvist this week...
3/6 vs UTA 24-24, W
Totals - 1gp, 1-0-0, 0.00 gaa, 1.000 save pct.