Eleven Straight Home Victories
San Antonio, TX – A banged-up San Antonio Rampage team pushed their franchise-record home winning streak to 11 on Tuesday night, defeating the Rockford IceHogs by a score of 2-1. It was a gutsy comeback win by a team playing without numerous regulars in the line-up including recent call-ups Jordan Kyrou, Jordan Nolan, and Mackenzie MacEachern.
The IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate) opened the scoring at 14:08 of the first period. William Pelletier and Blake Hillman fed Victor Ejdsell, whose wrist-shot from just above the dot in the right circle, found the back of the net. It would be the first and last goal newly-acquired goaltender Jared Coreau would allow all night.
Although Coreau had less than stellar numbers prior to joining the Rampage from the San Diego Gulls (3.57 goals against, .895 save %, and a 3-6-1 record), the 6’6″ goalie appears to have rediscovered his game here in the Alamo City (2.43 GA, .916 save %, and a 4-1 record). That game allowed Coreau to lead the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup Championship just two seasons ago.
The first period would end 1-0 in favor of the visitors from Rockford, completing a mostly uneventful, low-energy first period of hockey.
The IceHogs held an 11-8 edge in shots to begin the second period, and the game remained 1-0 in favor of the ‘Hogs until Rampage rookie, and St. Louis Blues prospect Mitch Reinke netted his 5th goal of the year at 11:18 of the second period. After a great takeaway by Klim Kostin in the near side corner, the Russian World Juniors team captain zipped a pass to Reinke in the high slot, who buried a wrist shot through traffic. The goal was Reinke’s 24th point on the season and launched the Stillwater, Minn native into a first-place tie in the AHL rookie defensemen scoring race. A secondary assist was credited to Bobby MacIntyre on the game-tying play.
The goal seemed to ignite a Rampage team, who were playing a forward short due to injuries to Chris Thorburn and Ryan Olsen, and a series of four Blues call-ups. The Rampage was also without the services of defenceman Niko Mikkola, forwards Nikita Soshnikov, and Nolan Stevens, and of course goaltender Ville Husso, all with injuries. Right Winger Mark Cooper of the ECHL’s Kanas City Mavericks was signed to a PTO-contract a day prior to the game, in an attempt to provide some much-needed offense.
The second period ended a 1-1 tie, with the Rampage doubling up the IceHogs in shots, 12-6. The Rampage also held a 20-17 shot advantage through two periods of play. The third period began in a tentative manner, neither team wanting to make a mistake that would lead to the tie-breaking goal. The two teams traded penalties, but the score remained 1-1 thanks to some heads-up goaltending by Coreau who left his crease, skating out between the circles to meet an IceHogs forward vying for a breakaway chance. The puck was then cleared away by Rampage captain Chris Butler to end any further scoring threat.
The Rampage finally broke the deadlock at 16:42 of the third on a snapper from MacIntyre, beating Rockford goalie Anton Forsberg. With the clocking winding down, Butler fired a breakout pass from the top of the right circle, which was tipped into the Rockford zone by veteran forward Trevor Smith. Smith eventually stripped the puck away from ‘Hogs forward Luke Johnson and threw a pass to MacIntyre in the high slot, who made no mistake scoring his second goal of the season. Rockford would pull Forsberg, and the Rampage appeared to capitalize, as MacIntyre scored an empty-netter. The goal was waved off for offsides, and after a few hectic moments in front of the Rampage net, the final horn sounded, and the crowd celebrated another home win.
The Rampage improved to 21-18-1-0 on the year and moved with 4 points of a playoff spot in the Central Division. Meanwhile, the IceHogs fell to 16-17-3-5 on the year, 3 points behind the Rampage. Both teams were scoreless on the powerplay.
Stars of the Game
1st – Bobby MacIntyre (SA) 1G (GWG), 1A
2nd – Mitch Reinke – 1G
3rd – Jared Coreau – 27 SA, 26 SV
The Rampage go on the road to face the Manitoba Moose (Winnipeg Jets AHL Affiliate) in Winnipeg in a weekend series, where the momentum gained from their home winning streak can hopefully translate into some much-needed road success as the dreaded “Rodeo Roadtrip” approaches. Games will be played on 1/19 and 1/20 both at 2:00 pm CST from Bell MTS Centre.
The IceHogs head home to Rockford to face the first place Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings AHL Affiliate) on Friday 1/19 at 7:00 pm CST from the BMO Harris Bank Center.
Blues Prospects Update
Klim Kostin played what was his best game since returning from the World Juniors tournament. He picked up an assist, but more importantly played a much more disciplined game, perhaps in a response to another round of Blues call-ups that haven’t involved him.
Mitch Reinke continued his run of success and looks to be a promising young defenseman in the Blues system. Although it is likely Butler and Jordan Schmaltz would get the call-ups ahead of Reinke, it might be fun to see how the rookie would handle playing against NHL competition.