Game Preview - Charlotte at Houston 10.13.12
Game Day Media Kit - CLICK HERE
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Charlotte Checkers (0-0-0-0, 0 points) at Houston Aeros (0-0-0-0, 0 points)
The Houston Aeros and Charlotte Checkers open the regular season one day after the AHL kicked off its 77th season. Saturday’s game marks the first of eight meetings between the two teams in 2012-13. Houston leads the all-time series with a 3-0-0-1 record against the Checkers. The Aeros claimed seven of eight points in 2011-12, including a 2-0-0-0 mark at the Toyota Center with a 10-5 goal differential.
Next Five Games:
Houston at San Antonio Sun. Oct. 14 3:30 p.m. (1070 AM / www.1070knth.com / www.ahllive.com )
Texas at Houston Fri. Oct. 19 7:05 p.m. (www.1070knth.com / www.ahllive.com )
Houston at Texas Sat. Oct. 20 7:00 p.m. (www.1070knth.com / www.ahllive.com )
Milwaukee at Houston Sun. Oct. 21 5:05 p.m. (1070 AM / www.1070knth.com / www.ahllive.com )
Houston at Oklahoma City Fri. Oct. 26 7:05 p.m. (www.1070knth.com / www.ahllive.com )
A Numbers Game …
• The Aeros are 8-7-0-3 all time in season openers, including a 7-9-0-2 record in home openers. The team is 4-3-0-1 when they open the season at home.
• The Aeros' longest season-opening winning streak is just three, and that started when the team joined the AHL in 2001. They won their first three season openers in the AHL. The Aeros can tie that mark with a win on Saturday. They beat OKC 6-1 on 10/9/10 and CHI on 10/9/11.
• Their longest season-opening losing streak is also three. That happened in their first three season openers (1994-1996).
• The Aeros will open at home for the third straight season, just the second time they've done that in franchise history. They opened at home four straight times from 2005-2008 (2-2-0-0)
• Saturday is the latest the Aeros have started a season since 2004, when they started on Oct. 15.
• The Aeros have played in just four season-opening overtime games. Their record is 1-0-0-3. Their last season-opening OT game was in 2008 when Krys Kolanos scored in OT to beat Chicago.
• The most goals the Aeros have scored on opening day is six.(2005 and 2010)
• The Aeros have never recorded a shutout or have been shut out in a season- or home-opener.
• In three of the last four season openers, the Aeros have allowed just one goal. In those games, they've outscored the opposition 12-3.
The Home Team –
The Aeros return 17 players from a team that posted a 35-25-5-11 mark with 86 points. The team fell in four games to Oklahoma City in the first round of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs. It marked the team’s ninth playoff appearance in 11 AHL seasons. The Aeros 2012-13 roster is composed of 24 players, which includes; two goaltenders, eight defensemen and 14 forwards. There are seven rookies and one veteran. Of the 25 players, 19 were taken in the NHL Entry Draft, which includes 12 Minnesota Wild selections. In all, five players were drafted in the first round and four players were second-round picks. The ages range from 28-year old Drew Bagnall to 19-year old Jonas Brodin.
Right wing Justin Fontaine is the top returning scorer from the 2011-12 team. He finished sixth among all AHL rookies in points with 55 last year. Chad Rau returns for his fourth year with the team, he is second among returning skaters with 35 points in 2011-12. Goalie Matt Hackett returns for his third year with Houston. He was 20-17-6 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage last season.
The seven new skaters include; four first-round picks who are turning pro and two second round selections making their AHL debuts. Up front, Mikael Granlund (#9 overall in 2010) will play his first season in North America after scoring 20 goals and totaling 51 points in 45 games with Helsinki in Finland. First-round selection Charlie Coyle (SJ pick #28 in 2010) also turns pro after a successful season at Boston University and Saint John (QMJHL). Between the two, he scored 18 goals and set up 34 others 52 points in 39 games. Center Zack Phillips (#28 in 2011) turns pro after three years with Saint John (QMJHL). The Minnesota first-rounder scored 30 goals and added 50 assists for 80 points in 60 games. Left wing Jason Zucker also turns pro after scoring 46 points in 38 games at the University of Denver. Zucker ranked tied for ninth in the NCAA in PPGs, tied for 13th in goals and tied for 15th in the nation in scoring. He was selected in the second round (#59 overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Fellow second-round pick (#56 overall by MN10’) Johan Larsson turns pro after scoring 12 goals and totaling 36 points in 49 games played.
The Aeros also added two new defensemen, including first-round pick (#10 overall in MN11) Jonas Brodin. He played in Farjestads BK Karlstad in the Swedish Elite League last season, setting up eight goals in 49 games played. Rounding out the blueline is Brian Connelly, an offensive-defenseman who has recorded back-to-back 52 point seasons.
The Charlotte Checkers –
The Checkers are made up of two goaltenders, 15 forwards and seven defensemen. In all, 18 players return to a Charlotte team that missed the playoffs by one point. The Checkers went 38-29-3-6 with 85 points. On the last day of the 2011-12 regular season, Charlotte lost at Milwaukee 6-1. The Aeros then jumped past the Checkers in the standings to swipe the final playoff spot, beating Texas at home 2-1.
Starting in net, the Checkers feature two experienced goaltenders, starting with Justin Peters. He returns for his second season in Charlotte, his seventh in the Carolina Hurricanes system. Last year, Peters was 10-13-2 with a 2.77 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. He also played in seven games for the Hurricanes, going 2-3-2 with a 2.48 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. Dan Ellis brings a wealth of NHL experience to the crease. The 32-year old has a 72-57-15 record in 165 appearances for Nashville, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Anaheim. Over his NHL tenure, Ellis boasts a 2.68 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.
The Checkers return high-scoring defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti. He finished second on the team last year with 50 points in 60 games played. He was also second overall in assists and first with 30 power-play points. Marc-Andre Gragnani joins the Checkers for his first season with the team. He spent most of the 2011-12 season with the Buffalo Sabres prior to a trade that sent him to Vancouver to finish the season. Gragnani has played in 283 AHL games, scoring 47 times and dishing out 159 assists for 206 points. 20-year old Justin Faulk played in 66 games for Carolina as a rookie last year. He also played in 12 games for the Checkers, scoring twice and setting up four goals for six points. Defenders Brett Bellemore, Michal Jordan, Justin Krueger and Rasmus Rissanen, round out the Checkers defense.
Charlotte returns left wing Chris Terry, who led the team with 59 points off 16 goals and a team-high 43 assists in 74 games. Terry led the team with 26 power-play assists and was second on the team with 29 power-play points. Winger Jerome Samson is back for his sixth season, he has five straight 20-goal seasons in the AHL. In 2011-12, he scored 20 goals and totaled 37 points in 57 games played. Samson was among the league leaders in shots on goal at the time of his recall to Carolina last year. He has placed among the league leaders five years in a row. Samson also played in 18 games for the Hurricanes, scoring two goals and totaling five points. Center Zach Boychuk enters his fourth season pro after finishing third in Charlotte in points last year. In 64 games, Boychuk had 21 goals and 23 assists for 44 points.
Preseason Games –
Houston 6 at Oklahoma City 2 10/6/12
The Houston Aeros defeated the Oklahoma City Barons 6-2 at the Cox Convention Center on Saturday night. Rookie Mikael Granlund scored four goals and added an assist to power the Aeros to victory in the team’s preseason finale. Fellow rookie Charlie Coyle added two goals and totaled three points as Houston wrapped up the preseason at 1-2. Rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper was credited with the Houston win, playing the first 31:45 with 13 saves on 14 shots. Third-year pro Matt Hackett played the back half of the game in net. He made seven saves on eight shots in 28:15 of work. Barons’ goalie Yann Danis suffered the loss, allowing six goals on 29 shots.
Houston 0 at Oklahoma City 4 10/5/12
The Houston Aeros were defeated by the Oklahoma City Barons 4-0 at the Cox Convention Center on Friday night. The Barons capitalized for a pair of power-play goals in the second period and added two more goals in the third period for the four-goal preseason win. Four different Barons scored in the win, as Oklahoma City went three-for-nine on the power play. Barons goalie Olivier Roy made 15 saves for the shutout. Houston goalie Matt Hackett finished with 18 saves on 22 Barons shots.
Houston 2 at Texas 2 10/3/12
The Houston Aeros were defeated by the Texas Stars 7-2 in a preseason game at the Cedar Park Center on Wednesday night. Texas left wing Francis Wathier scored twice and added two assists, leading the Stars to victory. Houston forwards Carson McMillan and Nick Petersen each scored in the defeat. Texas goalie Jack Campbell made 22 saves in the win, while Houston goalie Darcy Kuemper made 18 saves in the defeat. The Stars went four of seven on the power play.