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Aeros Game Day; Houston recalls Protsenko

January 16, 2004 - American Hockey League (AHL) Houston Aeros

It's finally here! Roger Clemens will drop the puck TONIGHT as the Aeros play host to arch-rival San Antonio at 7 p.m. Fifty random fans throughout the night will be selected to get autographs from "The Rocket." Remember that a large crowd is expected so arrive early. Tonight's broadcast is available on KBME 790, and also via www.aeros.com. Due to special ceremonies taking place throughout tonight's game, a recap of the game will appear on the website at the game's completion instead of between periods.

Houston Aeros vs. San Antonio Rampage, 1/16

Rampage at Aeros (Aeros lead all-time series 10-3-2-1, 7-1-0-0 at Houston)

· Tonight is the 17th all-time meeting between the teams – ninth in Houston.

· The Aeros are an unbeaten in regulation 2-0-1-1 in four meetings this season.

· The teams tied 1-1 in their last meeting on December 27 in San Antonio – Houston’s Zbynek Michalek and San Antonio’s Matt Dzieduszycki each scored.

· Aeros were 8-3-1-0 against San Antonio in 2002-03, the Rampage’s first year, including a 5-1-0-0 home mark.

· This is the fifth of 12 meetings this season.

· The teams meet in the finale of this home-and-home tomorrow night at SBC Center. Their next home-and-home faces off February 27 in San Antonio.

2003-04 meetings (Fifth of 12 meetings, Aeros 2-0-1-1 overall, 2-0-0-0 at Houston) November 23 – Houston 4 at San Antonio 5 (OT) December 13 – San Antonio 0 at Houston 4 December 26– San Antonio 1 at Houston 2 December 27 – Houston 1 at San Antonio 1 (OT) Tonight – San Antonio at Houston Tomorrow – Houston at San Antonio February 27 – Houston at San Antonio February 28 – San Antonio at Houston March 12 – San Antonio at Houston March 13 – Houston at San Antonio March 26 – Houston at San Antonio March 27 – San Antonio at Houston

Last game – AHL rookie Kyle Kettles made 20 saves for his first AHL shutout but Worcester's Reinhard Divis countered with 26 stops and turned aside a Travis Roche penalty shot with 7.6 seconds left in overtime, as the Houston Aeros and IceCats skated to a 0-0 tie at Toyota Center. The Aeros, who have skated to six ties and an overtime loss in the last eight games (0-1-6-1), have tied their franchise-record winless streak, an 0-6-1-1 span earlier this season. Houston though has picked up points in seven of those games and 11 straight at home (6-0-4-1), and has just two regulation losses in its last 18 games overall (9-2-6-1). Kettles, an unbeaten 2-0-3 in his last five while allowing just five goals in that span, made six saves in the first period, eight in the second, four in the third and two in overtime. Divis made nine saves in the first, seven in the second, five in the third and five more in overtime – including a Roche penalty shot with 7.6 ticks remaining.

Scouting the Aeros – Houston, with just two regulation losses in 18 games (9-2-6-1), again begins life without its leading scorer – Kyle Wanvig – tonight. The team went 1-1-0 without Wanvig while he was in Minnesota last month, and Wanvig was recalled to the Wild on Monday. The Aeros, who officially begin the second half of the season tonight, have skated to six ties and an overtime loss and a regulation loss (0-1-6-1) without a win in their last eight games. Wanvig has nine goals and two assists in 13 games prior to his recall, and was tied for the team lead in points with 23 (15g, 8a). Rickard Wallin (10g, 13a) will break that tie with Wanvig with his next point. Stephane Veilleux (6g, 15a) and Dan Cavanaugh (7g, 14a) are tied for third on the team in points with 21. Houston’s blueline is really chipping in lately. Jason Marshall, who took over the Aeros’ captaincy in December, has 15 points, including a team-best five goals from the blueline. Travis Roche (2g, 12a) has six assists in the last seven games, while Erik Reitz has 13 points (2g, 11a). Both of Reitz’ goals have been power-play game-winners. Last year’s Calder Cup Most Valuable Player, goalie Johan Holmqvist, has started 32 of the team’s first 40 games, going 12-15-5 with a 2.63 goals against average Holmqvist is winless (0-3-2) in his last five starts, one shy of his longest streak of the season and three shy of his career mark. His backup is second-year netminder Kyle Kettles, who is 2-3-3 with a 2.09 goals against average. Kettles has stopped 122 of 127 shots (96.1 percent) while going 2-0-3 in his last five games. Kettles has just nine goals of support in eight starts this season.

Scouting the Rampage – San Antonio was able to finish off a five-game homestand 2-2-1 last night, thanks to a 2-1 win over the Utah Grizzlies. Brent Cullaton scored his first Rampage goal and Lukas Krajicek also score. The Rampage, 4-9-2 since winning two straight games Dec. 6 and Dec. 11, is in fifth place in the West Division with 37, just two behind the fourth-place Aeros. San Antonio’s win last night snapped a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) that included a 6-2 loss to Grand Rapids at SBC Center Sunday. Leading the way for the Rampage is All Star Eric Beaudoin, who has 38 points (17g, 21a), including five of his team’s 16 game-winning goals. Mike Green is second on the team with 29 points (9g, 20a). San Antonio got a shot in the arm recently when Lee Goren returned from an injury. Goren has 20 points (9g, 11a) in just 23 games. The Rampage’s blueline is manned by Michel Periard with 16 points (5g, 11a), and Kyle Rossiter (4g, 5a). Goalie Travis Scott ranks among the league leaders in wins with 15, and he sports a 15-11-4 mark with a 2.23 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. Simon Lajeunesse was Scott’s backup until he suffered a severe groin injury Tuesday against Grand Rapids. Scott’s new backup is Marco Emond, out of CHL Laredo. The Rampage is playing its third game in four nights, and will play four in five tomorrow. (The Aeros come into tonight’s game off a six-day break).

No goals for Aeros in 159 minutes, 53 seconds – The Aeros have scored just 22 goals in 12 games (1.83 goals per game) since beating Norfolk 5-3 December 17. Houston has scored three or more goals twice during the last 12 games. Houston hasn’t scored a goal (nor a home goal) in 159 minutes, 53 seconds, since Darby Hendrickson’s power play tally with 4:05 left in the second period against Rochester January 4. The Aeros have been shut out in back-to-back home games for the first time since March 2 (Providence) and March 6 (Grand Rapids), 2002. The Aeros are in their longest home scoreless streak in team history, besting the previous mark of 151 minutes, 51 seconds, set from March 1-7, 2002. Houston’s longest ever scoreless streak if 185 minutes, 29 seconds, from March 19-24, 1995, when the Aeros were shut out in three straight games - the only time in franchise history that has happened. Offensively in the AHL, the Aeros have slipped to 24th at 2.28 goals per game.

Home points streak at 11 – Houston’s overtime loss to Hartford last Friday technically snapped the Aeros’ home unbeaten streak at nine games (6-0-3), but Houston still has an 11-game home points streak (6-0-4-1). Houston’s nine-game home unbeaten streak was the second longest in the AHL this season, trailing only Bridgeport’s 10-game run from October 25-December 17. Houston started off its first season in Toyota Center just 2-6-1-1 but hasn’t lost in regulation since a 3-1 decision to Milwaukee December 1, improving to 8-6-5-2. Each of Houston’s last five home games have gone to overtime (0-1-4), a franchise record. The Aeros’ current five-game home winless streak is one shy of their season high and three short of the franchise record, set from December 5-31, 1995.

My kingdom for a regulation game – The Aeros have gone into overtime in seven of their last eight games. The Aeros, winless at 0-3-8 in overtime, are one of four AHL teams without an extra session win. Houston’s 11 OT non-wins are the most of those four teams. The Aeros went 8-3-7 in overtime last season, second in the league in extra session wins (Chicago, 11). Houston’s 11 overtime games this season are still not even halfway to the franchise record of 26 shootout games in the 1998-99 season. The AHL record for overtime games is also 26, set in 2001-02 by both Albany and Rochester. The Aeros’ eight ties are still 10 short of the AHL/overtime era record, set in 1997-98 by St. John’s. New Haven played to 20 ties in 1972-73, but that was before the AHL played overtime periods.

Like father, like son – Houston’s penchant for overtime and tie games is remarkably similar to parent club Minnesota. The Wild, 2-3-8 in the last 14, and the Aeros, 9-2-6-1 in the last 18, have combined for only five regulation losses but also only 11 wins in their last 32 games (11-5-14-1). Both teams are winless in overtime – Minnesota is 0-0-13, while Houston sports an 0-3-8 extra session mark.

Aeros in fourth place – The Aeros (39 points) could move within a point of third place Milwaukee with a victory tonight and an Admirals home loss to St. John’s. Houston trails second-place Chicago by seven points and is 13 back of first-place Grand Rapids. Houston’s highest position this season was tied for third on December 28-29. The Admirals do have four games in hand on the Aeros.

Aeros tied for league’s best record since December 5 – Houston entered its December 5 home game with Cincinnati with an eight game-winless streak and a league-low 14 points. Since that game, which the Aeros won 3-1, Houston has 25 points, tied with Bridgeport and one more than Hartford for the most in the AHL. The run has helped the Aeros climb out of last place and into fourth. San Antonio has 14 points since December 5.

Aeros 9-2-6-1 in last 18 – Houston is 9-2-6-1 in its last 18 games, but is also winless in eight games (0-1-6-1), although the Aeros have picked up points in seven of those eight games. The Aeros began this 18-game streak by snapping a franchise-record eight-game winless streak with a 3-1 win over Cincinnati December 5.

· Houston ran off seven straight games without a loss (3-0-4) December 20-January 2, including four straight ties December 27-January 2.

· The Aeros are currently winless in eight games (0-1-6-1), tying their franchise record eight-game streak (0-6-1-1) November 20-December 3 of this season. Houston picked up points in just two of those games.

· Kyle Wanvig, currently in Minnesota, has recorded four of the team’s last nine game-winning goals.

· The Aeros’ six-game winning streak was tied for the second-longest in the AHL this season.

· In the season’s first 22 games, Houston allowed a league-worst 3.36 goals per game. In the last 18 games, the Aeros are yielding just 1.67 goals per game. That has helped Houston move out of the basement to 2.60 goals against per game, 17th in the AHL.

Hoggan enjoys new linemates – Aeros right winger Jeff Hoggan played mostly a checking line role in his rookie campaign of 2002-03, but he has already set his career-high in points this season with 18, including career-bests in goals (10) and assists (eight). Hoggan has been particularly hot lately, especially since he has been paired with a pair of Swedes – Rickard Wallin and Mika Hannula. Hoggan has 11 points (6g, 5a) in the last 16 games. Getting Hoggan on the scoresheet is very important to the Aeros, who have just one loss in regulation when he has a point. Houston is 9-1-3-2 when Hoggan has a point, including a 5-1-2-2 mark when he has a goal and an unbeaten 6-0-2-0 record when he notches an assist. Hoggan has a trio of two-point games this season. Wallin has nine points (3g, 6a) and Hannula seven (3g, 4a) since the pairing. Wallin (flu) missed three games during that span and Hannula four (wrist, flu).

Kettles unbeaten in five – It took goalie Kyle Kettles just more than two months to pick up his first AHL win December 20, but he wasted little time with win No. 2. He made 26 saves at Utah December 23, his second straight gutsy 2-1 road victory. Kettles has earned ties in each of his last three games, including a season-high 33 saves in a 2-2 game versus Cincinnati January 2, and a 20-save shutout – his first in the AHL – January 9 versus Worcester. Kettles has lowered his goals against average from 3.65 to 2.09 in the last five games. Kettles has turned aside 122 of 127 shots (96.1 percent) in going unbeaten (2-0-3) his last five starts. His team, though, has supported Kettles with just nine goals in the netminder’s eight starts this season. Kettles currently carries a shutout streak of 95 minutes, 32 seconds, dating back to Cincinnati’s Chris Armstrong’s goal in the second period January 2.

Déjà vu for Holmqvist – Aeros netminder Johan Holmqvist is reminding fans – and opponents – of the run he went on during last season’s Calder Cup Playoffs that helped his team win the title. Holmqvist, the 2003 Butterfield Trophy winner as the playoff Most Valuable Player, was the catalyst in the recent six-game winning streak.

· Holmqvist went 6-0-0 with a 1.00 goals against average and a .963 save percentage during the streak.

· Holmqvist’s six-game winning streak set a new career high. Holmqvist had won five in a row with Hartford from February 18-27, 2002. That streak was part of a career-best 7-0-2 unbeaten streak February 16-March 8.

· The Aeros’ netminder had a shutout streak of 189 minutes, seven seconds snapped December 17, just missing Frederic Chabot’s 1996 team record mark of 193 minutes, 37 seconds.

· Holmqvist has 76 AHL wins, one of just nine active goalies in the league to notch 75.

· Holmqvist is winless in his last five games (0-2-3), one shy of his season mark of six.

Penalty kill update –

· Houston killed off its first 31 shorthanded chances this season. Since then, opponents are 20-for-149 (13.4 percent) on the power play.

· The Aeros’ overall 88.9 percent penalty kill rate ranks third in the AHL.

· The Aeros have allowed four power plays or fewer in 14 of their last 16 games.

· Houston has allowed its opponents just one power play goal on 20 chances (5.0 percent) over the last six games, since Chicago went 2-for-8 December 28. The Aeros are perfect on their last 11 shorthanded chances since Chicago’s Kurtis Foster scored in the third period January 3.

· San Antonio’s power play is tied for 11th in the AHL at 15.0 percent. The Rampage sport a 4-for-24 mark in the last five games on the power play.

· Six of the seven West Division teams are ranked in the top 11 of the AHL on the penalty kill.

Power play update –

· Houston enters tonight’s game 27 of 240 on the power play (11.3 percent), 26th among 28 AHL teams.

· The Aeros have gone 15-for-96 (15.6 percent) since Matt Foy snapped a streak of 37 straight unsuccessful power plays December 5, raising their percentage from 8.3 to 11.3.

· Houston had at least one power play goal in 13 of 16 games from December 5-January 4, but the Aeros are 0-for-9 over their last two games.

· Houston’s 240 power plays are the most in the AHL, although Manitoba has nearly caught up (238). In order to put the Aeros’ power-play totals in perspective, realize that they have an astounding 93 more power plays San Antonio, which has the fewest in the league.

· Tonight, the Aeros face a penalty kill unit ranked eighth in the league at 87.4 percent. On the road, the Rampage rank fourth on the penalty kill at 89.7 percent.

· San Antonio has killed off 22-of-25 (88.0 percent) of its shorthanded chances over the past five games.

Hendrickson plays in 600th pro game, closing in on other milestones – Aeros centerman Darby Hendrickson played in his 600th professional game December 30. Hendrickson, who spent eight full seasons in the NHL, has 191 points (96g, 95a) in his pro career after two goals December 4. Hendrickson is four goals and five assists shy of 100 in his pro career in both those categories. Hendrickson played in his 100th AHL game December 27. He has 66 points (32g, 34a) in 107 career AHL contests.

Holmqvist 3-3-1 against Rampage – Aeros netminder Johan Holmqvist is 3-3-1 with a 2.69 goals against average in seven career games versus San Antonio. Holmqvist lost in overtime 5-4 to San Antonio on November 23, before tossing a 34-save shutout in a 4-0 home win December 13. Backup Kyle Kettles has faced the Rampage once, making 19 saves in a 1-1 tie at SBC Center December 27.

Scott 1-2-1 versus Aeros – San Antonio’s Travis Scott is 1-2-1 with a 2.69 goals against average against the Aeros, with all four games coming this season. In his last three games against Houston, his team has scored a total of two goals, and he’s just 0-2-1 in that span. Scott turned aside 33 stops in a 1-1 home tie with the Aeros December 27. Marco Emond has never faced Houston.

Houston has one win when allowing more than one goal - The Aeros are an unbeaten in regulation 13-0-2-1 when allowing one goal or fewer this season, and December 17 was their only win (1-15-6-2) when yielding two or more, a 5-3 home win over Norfolk.

Aeros have first goal in 12 of 16 games – Houston has scored first in 12 of its last 16 games, but the Aeros haven’t won any of the last five games when scoring first (0-1-4). Houston is 6-1-5-0 in the last 12 when scoring first and 11-2-5-1 overall when scoring first.

Hoggan, Veilleux ironmen – Houston sports just two players who have played in each of the team’s first 40 games – Stephane Veilleux and Jeff Hoggan. Veilleux’s consecutive game streak is at 46 games dating back to last season, while Hoggan has played in 43 straight games.

McLellan gets No. 100 – December 26 (also the Aeros last victory), Houston head coach Todd McLellan joined current Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett as the only coaches in team history with 100 victories. McClellan is now 100-64-25-11 in his 2 ½-season reign with the club. McLellan will have to keep at it to top Tippett’s 165-win total. Tippett coached the Aeros for 3 ½ seasons and - like McLellan - led his team to a championship, the 1999 Turner Cup. McLellan’s overall pro coaching record is 143-96-32-11 in 3 ½ seasons. He coached IHL Cleveland in 2000-01 before coming to Houston. McLellan picked up his 100th victory in his 192nd game with the team, just five more games than it took Tippett to reach the plateau. McLellan coached his 100th game with the Aeros last Friday.

Houston at halfway point – The Aeros have hit the official midway point of the season with a 14-15-8-3 mark. Below is a breakdown of Houston’s season so far in 10-game segments. Games 1-10 3-6-1-0, 7 points GF: 23 GA: 33 PP: 6-62 (9.7%) PK: 37-40 (92.5%) Games 11-20 2-5-1-2, 7 points GF: 26 GA: 35 PP: 6-60 (10.0%) PK: 51-60 (85.0%) Games 21-30 7-3-0-0, 14 points GF: 24 GA: 17 PP: 8-69 (11.6%) PK: 43-47 (91.5%) Games 31-40 2-1-6-1, 11 points GF: 18 GA: 19 PP: 7-49 (14.3%) PK: 29-33 (87.9%)

Aeros/Rampage connections

· Houston defenseman Erik Reitz played alongside the Rampage’s Matt Dzieduszycki for two seasons with OHL Barrie (1999-2001). In the 1999-2000 season, San Antonio’s Denis Shvidki was also on the team.

· San Antonio’s Paul Elliott was a teammate of Houston netminder Kyle Kettles in Medicine Hat in 1999-2000. Kettles also played with the Rampage’s Sean O’Connor in Moose Jaw in 2001-02.

· Houston defenseman Travis Roche played alongside San Antonio’s Lee Goren for one season at North Dakota.

· Rampage backup goalie Simon Lajeunesse was Stephane Veilleux’s teammate in 2000-01 with Val d’Or, and Chris Bala’s teammate in each 2001-02 (Grand Rapids) and 2002-03 (Binghamton).

Quick hits

· The Aeros, 0-3-8 in overtime, are one of four AHL teams without an extra session win. Houston’s 11 OT non-wins are the most of those four teams. The Aeros went 8-3-7 in overtime last season, second in the league in extra session wins (Chicago, 11).

· Houston’s 11-game overtime winless streak is its longest since a span of 12 games (0-4-8) from December 29, 2001, to March 29, 2002.

· San Antonio is one of three unbeaten in overtime teams (4-0-5). Grand Rapids (3-0-5) and Providence (1-0-9) are the other unbeaten in overtime teams.

· Houston has just one win this season when allowing a goal in the third period. The Aeros are 13-2-5-2 when keeping their opponents off the board in the third, including an unbeaten in regulation 12-0-5-2 the last 19 times.

· The Aeros’ Jason Marshall needs two points for 100 in his AHL/IHL career.

· Houston’s last game-winning goal from a player other than the called-up Kyle Wanvig was Chris Bala, in a 2-1 victory in Cincinnati December 20. Prior to that, Jeff Hoggan’s GWG December 13 against San Antonio was the last goal of its kind scored by an Aero other than Wanvig.

· San Antonio’s Eric Beaudoin has four of his team’s last 12 goals in the last six games and eight of his team’s last 22 over the past 11 games.

· The Rampage average just 2.08 goals per game on the road, compared to 2.83 at SBC Center.

· San Antonio enters tonight’s game having played twice as many home games (24) as road games (12). The Rampage still has 28 road games left. San Antonio is 4-6-2 away from SBC Center. Grand Rapids (14) and Bridgeport (13) have WON more games than the Rampage have PLAYED on the road.

· Five of the last seven meetings have been decided by one goal or has been a tie.

· Travis Roche’s overtime penalty shot January 9 was the first of its kind in the AHL since Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Ross Lupaschuk was stopped by Syracuse’s J. F. Labbe February 22, 2002.

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