HOUSTON 5, PEORIA 2
Defenseman Maxim Noreau broke a 2-2 tie with 10:19 to play in regulation, and Houston added a couple of empty-netters for a 5-2 win over Peoria in Game 7 of their first-round series on Monday at Carver Arena.
The Aeros, who finished third in the West Division, become the fourth lower seed in the AHL to advance and will take on Milwaukee in the West Division Finals.
Houston jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period on the strength of special teams. Krys Kolanos notched a power play goal just 1:39 into the game, and Marco Rosa extended the lead with a shorthanded marker at 11:01.
Noreau’s game-winner was unassisted, a shot from the right point that found its way through a screen in front and past Peoria goaltender Manny Legace.
Corey Locke and Mitch Love tacked on empty-net goals in the closing minute, ensuring Houston its first series victory since upending Peoria in the 2006 division semifinals, a series that also concluded at Carver Arena. Aeros goaltender Anton Khudobin earned the win with 19 saves on 21 shots.
Houston joins Worcester, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Grand Rapids as lower seeds to advance to the division finals round. The Aeros also became just the second road team to prevail in 13 Calder Cup Playoff Game 7’s since 2006, joining the 2007 Providence Bruins, who took out Hartford in the first round.
The Aeros are now 3-0 in Game 7’s and 4-0 in winner-take-all playoff contests since joining the AHL in 2001-02.
The West Division Finals will open at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center on Thursday evening.
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri. or Sat., May 8 or 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern