The Houston Aeros set a franchise record for their 8-0 loss to the Chicago Wolves Sunday afternoon: it was the largest home shutout loss the team had ever experienced. For the Wolves, it was their largest margin of victory ever.
Seven different Wolves players earned a goal or more, eight others a point or more on the 17 player bench. The two players without points were Kevin Doell and Boris Valabik. Frederic L’Ecuyler penalized an undisciplined Aeros for 51 minutes in the contest, versus just 17 minutes of penalties against the Wolves. Among the Wolves goals were two power play and one short handed goal, making the number of short handed goals this season 17, second in the league.
The game started downhill for the Aeros quickly when a hooking penalty on Clayton Stoner and a delay of game on goalie Dieter Kochan put the team on a 5-3 penalty kill. Nathan Oystrick, near the point, shot through a crowd to the back of the net for the game winning goal. Less than five minutes later, Andre Deveaux made a wrap around goal and a minute after that it was the turn of Brad Schell, recently up from the Gwinnett Gladiators, who forced a turnover in the defensive zone that turned the game into 3-0 Wolves.
The Schell goal drove Kochan out of the net in favor of Miroslav Kopriva. Kochan, who received the loss, stopped five on eight shots in his eleven minutes in the net. The Aeros went on a man advantage late in the period, as calls were made on Steve Martins. However, the Wolves held on to see the a power play of their own as penalties were called during the kill on Matt Foy and Stoner and Wolves Haydar. Haydar, fresh from the sin bin, scored his only goal of the night on the power play early on the fresh ice making it 4-0.
A fight broke out between the frustrated Joey Tetarenko and Valabik after the goal leading to a quiet ten minute period during which the Wolves did not score. It was ended as Deveaux was called for slashing with 5.54 left in the period. On the penalty kill again, Steve Martins picked up the puck and raced towards the Aeros goal taking a short handed mark away for the effort.
The final period saw Colin Stuart get two additional marks and Derek MacKenzie one. The winning goalie was Michael Garnett who faced only twenty shots on goal, ten of them in the first period and five in each of the next two. It was Garnett’s first win in three outings and second shutout of the year.
Kopriva stopped 33 shots, letting five goals past in a performance that was colder than Kochan’s.
The Wolves finish their Texas roadtrip, and this month-long road trip, welcoming the San Antonio Rampage back home to San Antonio on Friday. The Rampage last played at home January 21st. Their road trip, the longest in the American Hockey League, is caused by the San Antonio Livestock show. The Wolves, who end their Ice Capades road trip with the game, started their road trip January 21st. However, it was interrupted by one game against Syracuse, February 11th and the AHL All-Star game. It was the longest road trip in franchise history. The team was 7-2-1-2 on the road, earning 17 points and expanding its lead over the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. The team has only six road games and 16 home games left in the regular season.