From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Saturday, February 5, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Aeros 1, Admirals 0Official Box Score
In a stirring goaltenders duel, 20-year-old rookie Josh Harding made 34 saves for his third shutout and Matt Foy snapped a tie with 5:45 left in regulation, as the Houston Aeros outlasted Brian Finley and the defending Calder Cup champions Milwaukee Admirals 1-0 at Toyota Center.
The Aeros snapped a two-game winless skid (0-1-1-0) and play host to Utah on Tuesday at 11:05 a.m. on Chronicle in Education Kids Day. Houston won for only the second time in 10 Toyota Center meetings with Milwaukee.
Houston moved to 47 points, just one shy of fifth-place Grand Rapids and three off fourth-place San Antonio. Both those teams lost tonight. The Aeros have three games in hand on the Griffins and a whopping 10 on the Rampage.
Finley stopped 39 shots for Milwaukee, which had its five-game winning streak stopped.
Harding, making his first start against the Ads, made eight saves in the first period, 14 in the second and 12 in the third to improve to 2-1-0 since returning from a concussion which forced him to miss two months. The lone loss came in overtime in Chicago a place Houston hasnt won in more than two seasons on Wednesday.
It took Houston 34 shots to solve Finley, who entered the game with a 12-5-1 career mark against the Aeros. Pierre-Marc Bouchard sent an awkward shot from just below the goal line on the right side, and Finley made the save. The puck popped loose, and Foy just pushed it through the netminders skates for his sixth goal of the season first since December 18 with 5:45 remaining.
Bouchard pushed his point streak to six games, with nine points (3-6=9) in that span. Mark Cullen picked up the second assist for his second helper in three games.
Harding made it stand up, swallowing a Kevin Klein point blast with 3:05 left.
The Admirals pulled Finley with 1:38 remaining. Cullen made a sliding block of a Dan Hamhuis attempt from the point shortly thereafter.
The Aeros got a scare with 39.2 seconds left when Erik Reitz got pushed by an Admiral into Harding, who was slow to get up but shook off the hit.
Cullen cleared an attempt away from the low slot with 15 seconds remaining, pushing the puck out to center and ending Milwaukees chances.
Admirals sparkplug Jordin Tootoo jumped Reitz after the game behind the Aeros cage, and the two fought for the second time in as many nights.
Each team got eight shots in a quiet but active first period. The most excitement came 6:39 in, when Houstons Kyle Wanvig and Milwaukees Cam Severson squared off at the blue line.
Things got interesting again after time expired in the first, when Vern Fiddler took a cheap shot at Bouchard after the two got caught up behind the net. The scrum saw the normally mild-mannered Rickard Wallin lose a helmet.
The teams were 4-on-4 for most of the opening four minutes of the second period, which resulted in All-Star caliber offense and goaltending. Just 30 seconds in, Finley turned away Christoph Brandner, who split the defense for a breakaway. Then, he kicked out a Mikko Koivu rocket from the left circle.
Seconds later on the other end, Simon Gamache the leagues third-leading scorer rang a shot off the post. Just after that, Finley sent a Wallin attempt from the doorstep back out.
Milwaukee had two good chances around the periods midway point. First, Harding turned away Scottie Upshalls 2-on-1 shorthanded attempt, and Klein hit the post with 8:00 remaining.
Aeros defenseman Todd Reirden helped keep the game scoreless with 1:45 left in the second when he blocked a shot that got by Harding on the goal line.
In the third, Bouchard had a near breakaway down the right wing side, but Finley stopped him with 8:40 left. A minute later, Stephane Veilleux aimed at Finleys skate, but the goalie held his ground and then covered up.
Houston finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while Milwaukee went 0-for-2.
The Aeros scratched Dan Cavanaugh, Marc Cavosie, Derek Boogaard, John Erskine and Marius Holtet.
Houston recalled left winger Mark Rooneem from ECHL Louisiana prior to the game. Rooneem, who made his AHL debut starting on a line with David Bararuk (recalled Thursday) and Foy, had goals in his last four games with the IceGators, and 11 goals in the last 13 games overall.
Kirby Laws three-game assist streak ended.
Milwaukee has only nine road games left.
The Aeros are 3-8-0-0 in game one of back-to-back or back-to-back situations, but 10-5-1-0 in games two/three.
Houston improved to 10-7-3-2 in one-goal games.
The Aeros are 5-0-1-0 when Foy has a goal and 9-4-1-0 when he has a point.
Bouchards six-game point streak is one off Koivus team season-high, and his six-game assist streak is two longer than any teammate has had this season.