Headed to the Toyota Center to take in my first Aeros game of the new year (game #4 on the season, and #2 at home). We played the new cross-state rival Texas Stars (based in Austin) who are backstopped by former-Aero playoff netminder Matt Climie. The Stars also feature former Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning defensman Brad Lukowich as well as a few other players who've had a scratch of time in the NHL. This was my first look at the new Aeros squad, featuring over half new faces, but it was great to see familiar faces Noreau, Stoner, Irmen, Rodgers, and of course, Anton Khudobin between the pipes.
--My $5 parking lot is now $10. It's also now regulated by an automatic parking machine. So chalk that up to another human job taken by those **** robots.
--I was a little disappointed at the rude welcome Climie got by Aeros fans. I know he's the other team's goalie, and I realize he wasn't a huge contributor here last season, but he was one of our guys, and he was the guy who gave us a shot to get back into that series against Manitoba. We could have laid off on the "Climie SUCKS" chant until at least the third period, right?
--Clayton Stoner leads this team in goals. I think he scored maybe twice all last year. Perplexing.
--In what has become a continuing trend, the Aero Dynamics are wearing even less clothing this year than last year. While freestyling, a few of the dancers also seemed to hint that they have a background in some very different, less-family-friendly forms of dance. As a parent who'd like to take children to these games, I'm a bit disappointed. I don't know what kind of message these dancers are going to send about femininity to my son...or to any potential daughters, for that matter. Not a step in the right direction, Aeros.
--The crowd tried to get the wave going tonight. Been awhile since I've seen that one at a hockey game, especially a nearly-successful wave like tonight's.
--I felt bad for Hootie. The only thing that came between him and the shutout in his home debut was a fluky shot that deflected off of an Aeros stick and changed direction mid-air before deflecting off yet another Aeros defensaman's stick mid-air, popping it up over Khudobin's shoulder for the Stars' only goal of the night. Not fair, man. Just not fair.
--Big night for the Italian-sounding American-born players, as Zingoni had the only Aeros' goal in regulation and DiSalvatore had the lone marker in the shootout. Khudobin stopped all five Stars shooters for the 2-1 SO win. The final shooter to come up empty? Former Aero Matt Beaudoin, of course.
--Tonight was "Hispanic Heritage Night" at the Aeros game. From what I can tell, Hispanic Heritage Night means they occasionally play Spanish songs between periods and during stoppages in play. Yeah! Cultural diversity FTW!!
--They've added Adult Tricycle Races to the 2nd Intermission. I'm a bit ashamed to say I got really caught up in the thrilling finish.
--What's with all the people who throw Chuck-A-Pucks after time is finished? I get it that you think it's funny to try to hit the announcer or mascots before the game actually starts, but they've got kids on the ice afterwards to pick up pucks, and you're throwing things that could hit them from over a hundred feet away. Brilliant.
--Bought a pizza before the game rather than at intermission because A) they often run out of pepperoni by the 2nd intermission and B) I thought I might get a fresher pizza if I buy one early. It was certainly fresh out of the oven. It was also burnt. Still good, though.
--Oh, and I like the look of the new Aeros team. Should make for some fun games this season. Very satisfying walking away from the Yo with a 2-1 win.