After dropping two straight games to the division leading Charlotte Checkers, it would have been easy for the Houston Aeros to fold up shop and mail in the two points on Sunday when they hosted the Oklahoma City Barons. But rather than roll over the Aeros continued their dominance over the young Oilers squad, defeating them 4-3 in a shootout on teddy bear toss night.
A big crowd of over 9,300 took in the exciting game that saw the home team open the scoring thanks to a Rob Mignardi goal, his first of the season. Oklahoma City would tie it up on a Taylor Hall goal before the young phenom Justin Schultz gave the Barons the lead on his impressive 14th of the year sending the clubs to the locker rooms with a 2-1 OKC score after one.
Houston tied the game with the lone goal in the second period when Mikael Granlund got his fifth on the season and first since returning from injury that saw him miss twelve games.
Entering the third period tied at two, the Aeros deserved better fate if you go by the shot clock. The game appeared to be one-sided with the Aeros out shooting the Barons 26-15 through two periods but still found themselves tied. You could say that it’s karma coming back to bite Houston after they had pulled off something similar in Charlotte on Friday night. After getting badly outplayed on Friday night, the Aeros actually clung to a one goal lead with under twenty seconds to play. They lost in a shootout but still managed a point in a game they had no business being in. The Barons were on the verge of doing the same thing back to Houston.
Mark Arcobello gave the Barons the lead with just under nine minutes remaining, setting the stage for Jason Zucker‘s game tying goal at 17:47 of the third. Zucker continues to be the go-to guy when the Aeros need a big goal this season as he already has four game-winning goals. While this wasn’t the GWG, it did give the Aeros the chance to pick up that valuable extra point in overtime.
The five minute fourth period solved nothing, sending the game to a shootout. A fourth shooter was needed and it was Charlie Coyle who had the magic on his stick on this night, sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy.
Matt Hackett returned to the Aero’s goal after getting Saturday night off, making just 17 saves while earning what ended up being a difficult victory. Something impressive that’s worth noting is that Hackett turned away all four Barons’ shooters which included the likes of Jordan Eberle, Shcultz and Hall.
The win is the fifth on the season against the baby Oilers, giving the Aeros an impressive 5-1 record against their divisional opponents.
Next action for the Aeros is Thursday when they travel to Lake Erie for back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday.