Usual suspects propel Houston to win
HOUSTON, Texas - Roman Voloshenko tallied a goal and an assist, Erik Westrum also scored and Josh Harding made 18 saves, as the streaking Houston Aeros knocked off the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 2-1 at Toyota Center. Houston is 3-0-0-1 so far on a six-game homestand that continues Friday at Toyota Center with a rematch against the Knights. The first 5,000 fans get Veterans Day pins courtesy of the Aeros and the U.S. Army.
The Aeros (10-4-1-1) became the second AHL team with 10 wins, and their 22 points trail only Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's 24 for the league lead. The Penguins have played four fewer games, however. Houston has won 10 of its first 16 games for just the third time in its 12-year history.
Mark Giordano scored and Curtis McElhinney finished with 26 saves for the Knights.
The Knights held a 1-0 advantage after one.
Omaha had a great chance with 10:45 remaining in the first. Cam Severson broke in 2-on-1 on the left wing, but Harding made the save. Aeros captain Kirby Law swooped in to clear the rebound away from the crease.
The Knights broke through with 4:40 left on Giordano's third of the season. Carsen Germyn, along the right wing boards, fed Giordano at the center point. Giordano faked his way around Law and Voloshenko, walked into the mid slot and fired a shot by a screened Harding.
Seconds later, Law beat McElhinney through the pads, but his shot just rolled wide. With Houston on the power play late in the period, McElhinney kicked out a Kurtis Foster point blast.
The Aeros poured on the pressure in the second period, outshooting Omaha 19-6, outscoring the Knights 2-1 and beginning to assume control of the game.
McElhinney stopped Josh Olson's point-blank attempt early on in the second, but Westrum got Houston even at 2:28. Voloshenko picked off a pass behind the Omaha cage and fed Westrum at the right doorstep. Westrum, as he fell to the ground, snuck the puck short side by McElhinney for his eighth goal and team-best 24th point - one off Jiri Hudler's AHL lead.
Houston got 1:04 of a 5-on-3 midway through the second, and they scored with just the man advantage after the first penalty expired. Clayton Stoner, at the left point, fed Erik Reitz at the right point. Reitz took a stride towards the net and fired a perfect pass to Voloshenko in the low slot. Voloshenko tipped the puck by McElhinney for his team-best 10th goal of the season. Voloshenko is tied for second in the league in goals - three off Hudler's league-best total of 13.
Omaha's best chance of the second came late in the stanza, when Lynn Loyns created a turnover in the corner. He skated in on Harding, who left no angle for a shot and stopped the puck with his body.
Early in the third, with Omaha on the power play, Giordano got loose in the left circle and ripped a shot, but again Harding was there.
Houston's Bill Kinkel brought the fans to their feet with 10:23 left, when the youngster earned a hard-fought decision over Severson. Kinkel picked up a minor for tripping also, but Houston killed Omaha's second man advantage of the final period.
The Knights again went on the power play with 4:20 remaining when Stoner went off for holding. Omaha got one tip on Harding, before Giordano was called for hooking with 3:01 left.
Omaha pulled McElhinney with 25 seconds left, but Eric Nystrom's near side shot went well over Harding with five seconds remaining.
Houston is 5-0-1-0 when not allowing a goal in the third period.
The Aeros finished 1-for-9 on the power play, while Omaha went 0-for-6. Houston allowed at least one man advantage goal in each of its first 13 games, but hasn't allowed one in any of its last three contests.
The Aeros scratched Miroslav Kopriva, Colin Peters, Adam Courchaine, Mark Rooneem, Joey Tetarenko and Andrei Nazarov.
Houston has led after one period only twice in eight home games.
Harding is 13-3-1 in his last 17 regular-season games.
The Aeros improved to 7-1-1-1 in one-goal games, the most victories in the AHL in such contests. Houston and Hartford are tied for the league lead with 10 one-goal victories apiece.
Houston won for the first time when scoring two or fewer goals (1-4-1-1). The Aeros are a perfect 9-0-0-0 when scoring three or more times.
Two of Giordano's three goals have come versus Houston.
Law played in his 96th consecutive game with the Aeros - one off Mark Freer's team record. Freer set the mark in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
Law had his three-game goal streak snapped, but now has points in four straight.
Westrum also has a four-game point streak. He began the season with points in seven straight games.
Houston is 4-0-0-0 when Voloshenko scores, and 6-0-0-0 when he gets at least one point.
The Aeros are 6-1-0-0 when Westrum scores, and 10-1-0-1 when he finds the scoresheet.
Houston has trailed at some point in five of its 10 victories.
The Aeros released veteran defenseman Anders Myrvold from his pro tryout prior to the game.
Eight of Voloshenko's 10 goals have come at home. He has four points (1-3=4) in his last two games overall.
Each of the three meetings between the teams this season have been decided by one goal. Houston won a pair of shootout games last month in Nebraska.
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American Hockey League Stories from November 9, 2005
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