Now two-thirds of the way to sweeping the weekend, the Aeros absolutely spanked OKC tonight. The best thing, IMO, is while the usual suspects showed up on the score sheet, scoring came from some more unusual suspects.
Matt Kassian opened the scoring, with an assist from Brandon Buck. I didn't see the goal to know how it happened, but I know I feel a little worse about a goal when someone who isn't known for scoring gets it. Maybe that set up a little doubt in goalie Jeff Deslauriers' mind.
If it didn't establish doubt, Casey Wellman's power play goal with just 19 seconds left in the first period did the job of sending both teams to the room with the Aeros holding the momentum.
Thanks to AHL Live sucking, I didn't see much of the first, but shots were 12-4 for the Aeros, so I'm going to guess that they did that whole "come out strong, get them on their heels, wear them out early" thing that has become their calling card.
Jed Ortmeyer scored the first of his two goals midway through the second period, while shots evened up during the period.
Justin Falk got the first of his THREE penalties during the second (other two in the third) as well, leaving me with nothing to do but give him a stern look and a "tsk-tsk"....
Patrick O'Sullivan scored the fourth goal in the third, with Ortmeyer getting his second of the night about 6 minutes later, shorthanded during during Falk's third penalty.
After that it was just everybody holding their breath that Hackett's well earned (31 shots) shutout as he faced 16 shots in the third. And he did just that!
I'm waiting for some games to end to write about the standings after tonight, so I'll update with that a bit later.
Okay, so now the Aeros are alone in 2nd place with Milwaukee 1 point ahead of them and the Stars a whopping THREE points behind them. And then the Rivermen, Rampage, Wolves, and Barons are all within 3 points behind the Stars.
With a win tomorrow, the Aeros would jump over Milwaukee and into first, as the Admirals are off tomorrow. But the Ads will still have a pesky 2 games in hand, so there's always that big ol' but sticking out there.
Much like Friday's game against Texas was a "but it's just Texas" trap game, I worry about that same complacency against Rockford who sit out of playoff contention at the bottom of not just the division but also the conference. As bad as they are in the standings, they beat Peoria AND Milwaukee already this weekend, so the Aeros get another step ahead of the game if they can avoid that trap.
The good thing is, both will be travel weary, both playing their third game in 3 days, so it's a level playing field as far as that's concerned.
See you tomorrow...