Staring elimination in the face, the Aeros found their #roadwarrior roots tonight in Oklahoma City and held on to them for dear life in a 1-0 win that keeps the season alive at least until Tuesday.
Brett Bulmer scored the only goal for the Aeros (Cody Almond and Nick Palmieri with the assists), and Mike Brodeur owned the crease earning his first AHL playoff win in a 31-save shutout.
I spent all day writing the Aeros obituary/autopsy in my head, but the win forces me to save that for another day.
Instead, some superlatives from the game (which I should disclose, I only listened to on the radio):
- Shots were still out of whack at 21-31 for OKC, but the gap is closing, and the first two periods were very even (11-11, 7-9).
- The Aeros had 14 minutes of penalties to kill vs. OKC's 4 minutes, and one instances was a full 2-minute 5 on 3, on which the Barons hit the post a thousand times but couldn't score. That and one other minor penalty happened in the third, which somewhat accounts for the lopsided shot total of 3-11 for the Barons.
- Mike Brodeur has literally played only 4 or 5 games this season. Bob Mason told me a few days ago that they really weren't sure what they were getting in signing him, but they needed someone and just took a flyer on him. Props to Aeros GM Jim Mill for the clutch roster management (again).
- Bulmer's goal was his first professional playoff goal. He played 8 playoff games with the Aeros last season before hurting his knee, and had no points. He now has a goal and an assist in 3 playoff games this season. He looks bigger, strong, and more sure of himself. Get excited about this kid. He's pretty good.
Matt Hackett is on the trip with the team, but Ian Keserich, who was in the CHL this season, is backing Brodeur up. Also, Nate Prosser returned from injury tonight. Have to think that helped solidify the blue line a great deal.
Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) come Tuesday and Wednesday and the Aeros have got to get penalties under control. The hockey gods had their backs tonight, and Brodeur was unflappable (and frankly, has next year's contract to play for, so these are incredibly important games for him personally), so they escaped, but this is a tough team. No need to make it harder on yourself killing penalties so much of the game.
I have my own hockey game to attend to Tuesday night, but I will have an ear bud in my ear until I get on the ice and as soon as I get off so I can give you the best information possible.