May 13, 2009 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Houston Aeros
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin - The Houston Aeros punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2003 with a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Admirals in Game 7 at Bradley Center. Four different Aeros scored goals and Clayton Stoner netted the game-winning goal on Houston\'s only power play goal of the contest. Anton Khudobin stopped 27 of 29 shots for his eighth win of the playoffs for the Aeros.
The Aeros will head directly to Manitoba to take on the Moose in the Western Conference Finals which start Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Winnipeg. Tickets will go on sale Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Click here for more series and ticket information.
The Aeros had not scored an even strength goal on Admirals\' goaltender Drew MacIntyre in a span of 178:51 entering the first period Wednesday night. It took Houston just 3:34 to end the streak when Corey Locke banged home a rebound of a Maxim Noreau shot to give Houston a 1-0 lead. Locke\'s goal marked his eighth of the playoffs and he continues to lead the AHL in scoring in the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs.
Houston added to their lead less than one minute later when right wing Krys Kolanos took a drop pass from Marco Rosa and buried a wrist shot far post. It marked Kolanos\' sixth goal of the post-season and gave Houston a 2-0 lead after just 4:23.
After a penalty to Admirals\' defenseman Cody Franson that the home team successfully killed, the Admirals earned three straight power plays. Milwaukee cut the Aeros\' lead in half at the 14:12 mark on a power-play goal when Patric Hornqvist tallied his fourth of the post-season on a centering pass from Cal O\'Reilly. Hornqvist received the pass at the top of the slot and wristed it over the glove of Aeros\' goaltender Anton Khudobin.
After one period of play, Houston had the edge in shots at 11-9 marking the first time in the series that the Aeros recorded more shots after one period. The visitors took the 2-1 lead into the intermission.
Houston had four power play opportunities in the second period and converted on the final one. Houston had a five-on-three power play for five seconds, and just as Hugh Jessiman was coming out of the box to make it five-on-four, Stoner ripped a slap shot from 10 feet inside the blue line through traffic and beat MacIntyre. The goal came at the 14:21 mark of the second period and was assisted by Brandon Rogers and Benoit Pouliot.
Houston held on to the 3-1 lead until the 18:58 mark of the second when Mike Santorelli got behind the Aeros defense and beat Khudobin with a wrist shot from the right circle. Cody Franson assisted on the play to make it a 3-2 game going into the final period.
Houston again outshot the Admirals in the period 10-8 and 21-17 for the game marking the first time in the series the Aeros held the edge in shots through two periods.
After weathering an early onslaught from the Admirals in the first five minutes of the third period, Houston took advantage of the pinching defense by Milwaukee. Bryan Lundbohm picked up the puck along the right-wing wall near center ice on a two-on-one break with Tony Hrkac. Lundbohm passed the puck to Hrkac who made goaltender MacIntyre commit, then Hrkac gave it back to Lundbohm and he banged it into the open net to give Houston a 4-2 lead at the 5:30 mark.
Milwaukee didn\'t let off as the team posted a total of 12 shots on net in an effort to come back from the two-goal deficit. The home club wasn\'t able to convert on two power-play chances and pulled MacIntyre late in the contest in favor of an extra attacker. Just 38 seconds into the netminder being absent from the ice, Locke scored his second marker of the game on an empty net giving the Aeros a 5-2 lead with 1:51 remaining in the contest.
The Admirals\' MacIntyre returned to the net for the remainder of the contest and finished with 25 saves on 29 shots in the game. Houston went 1-for-7 on the power play while the Admirals converted on one of six tries.
- The Game 7 victory was the second in a row for the Aeros. The back-to-back Game 7 wins marked the first time since 2003 when the Aeros won the Conference Finals and Calder Cup Finals in seven games each.
- Houston\'s win sends them to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2003.
- The Aeros improved to an all-time record of 6-1 in Game 7\'s and 4-0 in AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.
- The Aeros recorded three five-on-five markers in the contest, the most Houston has recorded in a single game this series.
- Corey Locke\'s opening goal snapped a streak of 178:51 without an even-strength marker.
- Locke recorded two goals in the contest giving him a total of nine for the playoffs and a total of 15 points to lead the league in both categories.