HOUSTON, TEXAS (January 16, 2011) The Grand Rapids Griffins battled back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 shootout win, but earning a point in extra time was enough to launch the Houston Aeros into sole possession of third place in the AHL’s West Division race. Robbie Earl and Patrick O’Sullivan scored for the Aeros in the Sunday afternoon matchup before 5,486 at Toyota Center.
Thanks to a 5-2 San Antonio loss at Chicago, the Aeros inched a point ahead of the Rampage in the West Division standings. Houston, which has won four of five overall and five of their last six at home, now sits two points behind the first-place Milwaukee Admirals.
The shootout mirrored regulation for the Aeros. Up 2-0 on goals by O’Sullivan and Casey Wellman, the Griffins mustered three unanswered tallies to steal the extra point. Jamie Johnson, Jamie Tardif and Chris Minard provided the offense in extra time for Grand Rapids.
The Aeros opened up a 2-0 lead within a span of 1:55 in the first period. Earl put Houston up 1-0 with his team-leading 12th goal of the season, beating Griffins goalie Adam Pearce with a wrist shot for an unassisted tally at 7:05. O’Sullivan followed up at 9:00 for his second goal in as many games with the Aeros this season.
Tardif cut the lead in half for the Griffins at 15:41 to pull into a tie for his club’s goal-scoring lead. After Grand Rapids successfully killed off a five minute major penalty in the early stages of the third, Derek Meech tied the game at 9:42.
Matt Hackett took the shootout loss for Houston with a 35-save performance.