Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Aeros avoid elimination, Game 4 Tuesday; Coyle, Phillips still flying for Saint John

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: April 23, 2012 - 10:44 AM

It feels like a month since the Wild last played, but its American Hockey League affiliate is still kicking.

After losing the first two games in their best-of-five first round series against Oklahoma City, the Houston Aeros staved off elimination last night by beating the Barons, 1-0.

Brett Bulmer scored the lone goal (Cody Almond, Nick Palmieri with the assists) and Mike Brodeur stopped 31 shots for the shutout.

"Very good character win," said Aeros GM Jim Mill.

Brodeur will be in net again Tuesday night in Game 4 as Matt Hackett recovers from an injury. Darcy Kuemper is out for the year folliowing major shoulder surgery in March.

Brodeur was back home hurt all year until the Wild came calling a few months ago. They sent him to Las Vegas in the ECHL to play a few games before bringing up to Houston. Good thing because they need him now.

Brodeur used to play for Ottawa. He has three NHL wins -- one against the Wild, a day after the 2009 equipment fire. That was the game almost every player had to play in brand new equipment and, if I remember correctly, the Wild had to play short because Guillaume Latendresse and Eric Belanger got what I think was the swine flu. It was just this awful bug that was going through the team. Antti Miettinen had it. So did Josh Harding. So did I after the Montreal game.

Needless to say, in Ottawa, the Wild had no energy, Niklas Backstrom looked like a mess and Brodeur backstopped the Senators to the easy W.

In the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, the Saint John Sea Dogs hold a 2-0 lead on Chicoutimi in the semifinals. Saint John has won 12 in a row -- 10 in a row in the postseason. Game 3 is Tuesday.

Wild prospect Charlie Coyle leads the league with 24 points in 10 games. His linemate and fellow Wild prospect, Zack Phillips, is tied for second with 23 points. Coyle is second with 11 goals, Phillips is first with 17 assists. Coyle is first with a plus-21 (in 10 games!), Phillips is third with a plus-19.

In the Ontario Hockey League, Wild prospect Tyler Graovac and the Ottawa 67s (Tyler Cuma's old team) took Game 2 of their Eastern Conference championship series against Niagara. The series is tied 1-1. Graovac, a seventh-round pick by the Wild last June, is seventh on Ottawa with eight points in 15 games.

Also, over the weekend, Johan Larsson's team, Brynas, won the Swedish Elite League title. This kid is like the forgotten prospect, but he's darn good and captained Sweden to gold at this past world juniors. Larsson was Brynas' No. 1 center and had two assists in the 2-0 win in the SEL championship clincher.

 

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