From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Saturday, March 19, 2005
713.361.7930 (Direct Line) Moose 8, Aeros 1Official Box Score
Nathan Smith nearly doubled his seasons goal total with a hat trick, including a tone-setting goal 77 seconds into the game, and Jeff Heerema added a goal and two assists, as the Manitoba Moose handed the Houston Aeros their worst loss in more than two seasons, 8-1, at MTS Centre. Ryan Kesler finished with a goal and an assist, and Nolan Baumgartner, Jesse Schultz and Kevin Bieksa also scored for Manitoba, which reclaimed second place in the North with 84 points. Wade Flaherty made 25 saves, while Jimmy Roy tallied three assists and Danny Groulx two for the Moose.
Manitoba scored twice in the first period and three times each in the second and third against an Aeros team that was coming off a 2-1 shootout loss in Utah last night. It will be a short night for both teams, as Houston, which has lost its last two games in Winnipeg by a combined 15-3 score, finishes off the three-in-three stretch at MTS Centre on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Aeros, though, are 6-1-1-0 this season when playing their third game in three nights.
Rookie Josh Harding, who wrapped up his junior career in nearby Brandon, stopped 11-of-16 shots in two periods for the Aeros, who fell to 1-1-0-1 to begin a four-game road trip. Mike Smith added seven saves in relief. Houston (72 points) fell three points behind third-place Cincinnati, a 5-4 overtime winner in Cleveland tonight. The Aeros have a game in hand on the Ducks. Houston also saw its lead over fifth-place Grand Rapids chopped to five points after the Griffins won 4-3 in Chicago tonight. Grand Rapids has two games in hand on Houston.
Houston last lost by seven goals in a 7-0 shutout on January 28, 2003, in Grand Rapids.
Nathan Smith, who entered the game with four goals in 57 games, got things going just 1:17 into the game, as he got a Groulx feed by Harding. The Aeros allowed the first goal for the seventh time in eight games.
The Aeros failed to capitalize on a pair of power play opportunities, and Manitoba made them pay by building a two-goal lead on the power play with 9:59 remaining in the first. With Brent Burns in the penalty box, Heerema won the faceoff back to Groulx at the far point. Groulx, acquired from Grand Rapids earlier this week, slid a point-to-point pass to Baumgartner, who rifled a shot inside the near post for his eighth goal.
After Houstons Kyle Wanvig had an apparent goal waved off the light turned on Schultz made it 3-0 Manitoba at 6:01 of the second. The Aeros broke into the neutral zone 3-on-1, but a turnover caused by Jason Jaffray led to the tally, Schultz fourth in 54 games.
Bieksa, one of the top rookie defensemen in the league, built the lead to four goals with 5:54 remaining in the second, on a rip from the point his ninth goal. Kesler put the Moose up five 3:31 later with his 26th goal.
Harding has allowed eight goals in his last three periods, having been pulled after 20 minutes Monday versus Cincinnati.
Mike Smith fared no better to begin the third, allowing two goals in the first 3:20. Heerema scored unassisted only 57 seconds in, and just six seconds after a Manitoba power play ended, Nathan Smith scored his second of the game. He finished off the hat trick with a goal at 7:56, 11 seconds after an elbowing penalty to Jeremy Reich expired.
The Aeros avoided their worst shutout loss in franchise history with 8:59 remaining, as Reich banged home a Derek Boogaard pass for his first goal with Houston.
Houston went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Manitoba finished 1-for-4.
The Aeros scratched Erik Reitz, Mark Cullen, Ryan Stokes, Stephane Veilleux, Todd Reirden, Christoph Brandner, Marius Holtet and John Erskine.
With Erskine out of the lineup, veteran Joey Tetarenko shifted back to the blueline.
The Aeros worst losing deficit ever was nine goals, in a 10-1 decision March 2, 1996, at home versus Orlando.
Houston last allowed eight goals in an 8-2 loss to Milwaukee on November 6, 2003.
Tonight marked the Aeros worst loss against Manitoba in their 63-game series. The Moose won 7-1 at home March 25, 2001.
Dan Cavanaugh assisted on Reichs goal and has helpers in each of the last two games.
The Aeros have scored two goals in their last four losses (0-3-0-1), but 13 in their last two wins.