At long last, hockey has returned to Houston…well, maybe not that long since the Aeros played on June 7…but I digress.
In a matter of hours the Aeros will host the Chicago Wolves, who lost in a shootout last night in San Antonio to open their 2011-2012 campaign.
Here are a few things to look for:
- New coaching staffs: Both the Aeros and Wolves have new coaches, with former NHL great Craig MacTavish taking over in Chicago and the Aeros of course being led by former NHL assistant, and Stanley Cup Champion, John Torchetti.
- Hackett’s maturation: Goaltender Matt Hackett returns for his second pro season, and expectations should be sky high. How much the London, ON native has grown from his playoff experience last season + an offseason of conditioning, etc. will be interesting to watch. He’ll make the start today for the Aeros.
- Taffe’s Debut: The biggest offseason signing for the Aeros is veteran Jeff Taffe, who posted 30 goals last season in Rockford. He’ll play alonside Chad Rau and Jon DiSalvatore today.
- The Week Off: With no games since their preseason finale seven days ago, I know the Aeros’ coaches have some concern about how the Aeros will perform in the opener today.
Don’t forget that the division realignment this summer means that the Wolves (as well as the Milwaukee Admirals, Peoria Rivermen and Rockford Ice Hogs) are no longer division rivals. Thus, the Aeros and Wolves only play four times this season, including today.
The Aeros are 6-3-1-0 in their 10 previous AHL season openers and 4-6-0-0 in home AHL openers. They’ve lost 2 straight home openers, with their last win coming against the Wolves to open the 08-09 season, an overtime win…trivia question for you – who scored the OT winner that night?
Check out Game Day audio from today plus the season preview with Coach Torchetti here.
The answer to the question above by the way, is Krys Kolanos.
That’s all for now…enjoy the tilt!
– Aero Joe