From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 5, Grizzlies 1Official Box Score
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah
Kyle Wanvig scored twice and added an assist, and he, Junior Lessard and Patrick Traverse scored on three consecutive power plays, as the Houston Aeros shook off a slow start for a 5-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies at The E Center. Mikko Koivu tallied a goal and an assist, Pierre-Marc Bouchard chipped in two helpers and Lessard added an assist as the Aeros moved to 71 points, two behind third-place Cincinnati with a game in hand. Houston, which got 27 saves from former Grizzlies goalie Mike Smith, converted three straight power plays for the second time in three games.
Erik Westrum scored early in the game and David LeNeveu stopped 26 shots for Utah, which was trying to win back-to-back games for the third time this season. The Grizzlies play host to the Aeros again Friday at 8:05 p.m.
Wanvig tallied his sixth career multiple goal game first since February 11, 2004 and recorded three points for the sixth time. The red-hot Wanvig has three goals in the last three games, and seven points (3-4=7) in the last four games. Houstons leading scorer in 2003-04 with 25 goals and 41 points, Wanvig now has 10 scores and 24 points this season. Wanvig also tallied three points (1-2=3) in Saturdays 8-0 thumping of San Antonio.
Smith, meanwhile, improved his career mark at The E Center to 9-5-1 with an impressive 2.25 gaa. He lost a 2-1 shootout to the Grizzlies last month in his first trip back after parts of two seasons with Utah.
The Aeros finished 3-for-5 on the power play, and they are 10-for-25 on the man advantage against Utah this season. The Grizzlies went 1-for-7 and are 2-for-26 versus the Aeros in 2004-05.
The Aeros allowed the games first goal for the fifth time in six attempts, as Utah capitalized at 5:44 of the first on a hooking penalty to Bouchard. Westrum ripped a pass from Aaron Gavey on net, and the puck banked off an Aeros defenseman in front and up and over Smith. Westrum picked up his team-best 14th goal of the season.
Houston answered with a power play goal of its own with 2:22 remaining in the first, after Terry Virtue went off for holding. Lessard took a cross-ice feed from Ray Giroux at the point and clanged a shot off the post and into the net for his ninth goal third on the power play. Lessard has four goals in his last seven games after going 20 games without one.
Houston began the second period on the power play, after recently signed Eric Labelle, the UHLs top penalty getter, instigated a fight with John Erskine as time expired in the first
The Aeros wasted no time, scoring only 21 seconds into the second. Bouchard stepped through a defender and got a shot off in the low slot. LeNeveu made the pad save, but Wanvig crashed the net and popped the bouncing puck over the netminder for his ninth goal seventh on the power play.
Wanvigs goal helped Houston take its first lead on the road in 215:52.
Utah got 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 past the midway point of the second but didnt score. In fact, Houstons Marius Holtet sprung ahead on breakaway coming out of the penalty box, but LeNeveu made the save. But Holtet drew a slashing penalty on Westrum, ending the Grizzlies power play with 1:14 remaining.
On the resulting Houston man advantage, Traverses fifth goal put the Aeros on top 3-1. Traverse cut through the right circle, took a picture perfect feed from Rickard Wallin behind the net and rifled it by LeNeveu with 4:56 left in the second.
Just 11 seconds later, the Aeros went back on the power play, but Brent Burns shot from the point went off the post.
In the third, Wanvig notched his second of the game and 10th of the season at 4:21. Koivu won the faceoff to Lessard, whose shot was blocked by LeNeveu. Wanvig hopped on the rebound and slipped it by the netminder.
Koivu went to his bread and butter to finish off the rout with 5:53 left. He took a feed from Wanvig just inside the edge of the circle and whipped a snapshot high blocker side on LeNeveu for his 17th goal of the season.
The Aeros scratched Chris Heid, Erik Reitz, Mark Cullen, Stephane Veilleux, Todd Reirden and Christoph Brandner. Cullen, one of the Aeros top penalty killers and faceoff men, and the teams fourth-best assist man, will have surgery Thursday after suffering an upper body injury Monday.
Prior to the game, the Aeros returned left wing Bill Kinkel to ECHL Pensacola. Kinkel had 19 penalty minutes in three games with the team.
Defenseman Ryan Stokes, recalled from Pensacola on Monday, made his Aeros debut.
Aeros winger Derek Boogaard returned after missing the last four games due to injury.
Wanvig has 19 power play goals in his four seasons with the Aeros, just one behind Jeff Christian for seventh place on the teams all-time list. Wanvig has more AHL power play goals than any other Aero.
Bouchard has a team-best 12 multiple point games, including seven two-assist contests.
The Aeros have scored three or more power play goals in five games this season.
Houston has trailed at some point in 13 of its 31 victories. The Aeros are 7-11-5-2 when trailing on the road.
Lessard, the reigning Hobey Baker winner, notched his third two-point game, first since January 11.
Houston snapped a three-game road winless streak (0-2-1-0).
Koivu has five points (3-2=5) in his last three games.
Houston has outscored Utah 8-1 in winning the last two games at The E Center.