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AERO THROUGH THE HEART

Houston Aeros 5 at GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 4

Feb. 11, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Jon DiSalvatore redirected a shot past Tom McCollum with 29 seconds remaining on Saturday to thwart Grand Rapids’ bid for overtime and enable the Houston Aeros to escape Van Andel Arena with a stunning 5-4 win over the Griffins.

The Griffins had pulled McCollum in favor of an extra attacker and knotted the score at 4-4 just 17 seconds earlier on a rebound goal by Joakim Andersson from the slot, but the Aeros scored on their next shift following a turnover in the Grand Rapids zone to pull out the victory and sweep the two-game weekend set from the Griffins.

Grand Rapids will complete a rare three-in-three at home on Sunday when it faces off against the San Antonio Rampage at 5 p.m. on Brendan Smith Bobblehead Night.

The Aeros took advantage of giveaway and a fallen McCollum to strike first at 5:22 of the opening period, with Marco Scandella scoring on a blast from the left circle before the netminder could get back into position.

But Grand Rapids answered with a pair of goals before intermission, as Jamie Johnson and Chris Minard set up each other for tallies. Exactly 10 minutes after Scandella’s goal, Johnson sent a pass from deep in his zone to a streaking Minard, who skated in alone on Darcy Kuemper before slipping a backhand between the goalie’s pads.

Minard returned the favor at the 18:35 mark, grabbing the puck behind the net and quickly sending a pass out front to Johnson, who put the puck past Kuemper on his second whack to give Grand Rapids its first lead at 2-1.

Fabian Brunnstrom increased that cushion to two goals just 2:37 into the second frame, potting a shot from the right side and prompting Houston coach John Torchetti to use his timeout. After seeing the Griffins score three unanswered goals, the Aeros responded with the first of three straight of their own. Houston (25-13-3-9) trimmed its deficit to one thanks to a fine play on the forecheck by Jed Ortmeyer, who poke-checked the puck from Logan Pyett in the slot and watched it slide past an unsuspecting McCollum with 6:49 left in the frame.

Kris Foucault tied the score at 3-3 at the 2:55 mark of the third, firing a wrist shot from the left circle that deflected off a body in the slot and snuck inside the left post. Griffins coach Curt Fraser responded by calling a timeout of his own, but another defensive lapse proved costly at 8:31, as Justin Fontaine knocked the puck away from Pyett right to David McIntyre, who blistered a shot into the top of the net to put Houston back on top at 4-3.

In the final minute, with McCollum on the bench, the Griffins swarmed around the Houston net and had several tries before Andersson set off a short-lived celebration with his 12th goal of the season. But DiSalvatore got a piece of Drew Bagnall’s shot from the point moments later, dipping the Griffins’ record (19-20-4-4) below 0.500 for the first time since Jan. 17.

McCollum finished with 17 saves while Kuemper turned aside 30 shots in the win.

Three Stars: 1. HOU McIntyre (goal); 2. GR Minard (goal, two assists); 3. HOU Fontaine (two assists)
 

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