The Houston Aeros ended their AHL preseason schedule on Saturday night with a 6-2 drumming of the Oklahoma City Barons. Top prospect Mikael Granlund was the first star of the game after scoring scored four goals and an assist. Granlund’s first tally came early in the first period, with assists going to Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle, and his second came on a pass from defenseman Chay Genoway. Then in the third period, Granlund scored twice more–both on the Power Play.
Houston’s other goals were scored by another top prospect, Charlie Coyle. His first goal of the night was assisted by Granlund on the man advantage, and his second came late in the third period, assisted by Jarod Palmer.
Other Aeros that had a strong showing in the game were Marco Scandella, who had two helpers on the night, Jason Zucker, who had an assist and was +2 on the night, and Steve Kampfer, who had a helper and five shots on goal. Bret Bulmer played in this game but did not dent the stat sheet.
The Aeros went three for five on the power play, while the Barons were held scoreless on six power play attempts.
The AHL might actually feel like a step down in competition for Granlund after playing in the SM-liiga for the last several years. Nevertheless, it is good to see him adjusting to the North American style and rink dimensions. With a reputation as a great playmaker and puck distributor, it is surprising to see him with four goals and an assist. The Aeros’ top line of Granlund, Coyle, and Zucker is definitely making waves in the AHL, and it is certainly beneficial for those three to get time on a line together, as they might all three be skating together in Wild uniforms some day. Building rapport and chemistry early on could certainly pay dividends as the Aeros make a run at the Calder Cup.
The Aeros regular season kicks off this Saturday, October13th at home as the club hosts the Charlotte Checkers.