(Photo: Edward A. Ornelas, Staff / San Antonio Express-News)
The 2018-2019 season has been the absolute definition of a rollercoaster ride, filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, even several inversions, ands it’s not over yet. Much like rollercoasters these road trip games have been fun but occasionally leave you sick to your stomach, dizzy, and wondering what just happened. San Antonio’s record now stands at 25-24-5-0, 7th place in the Central division, and six points behind the 4th place Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate) for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Rampage however, have played three less games than Rockford, making a final push for that spot entirely possible.
Vs. Ontario 2/22
That push began this past weekend began with a win for San Antonio as they defeated the Ontario Reign (LA Kings AHL affiliate) by a final score of 4-2. The Rampage jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Jakub Jerabek (6) and Jordan Kyrou (14) scored powerplay goals just over a minute apart. Mitch Reinke (26, 27) grabbed the primary assists on both goals, while Kyrou (21) and Trevor Smith (9) picked up secondary assists. The game would remain 2-0 until nearly halfway through the third when the Reign notched their first goal. Nearly four and a half minutes later Ontario would find the back of the net again tying the game at 2-2. Both goals were scored by Kale Clague.
With under two minutes remaining in the game and the score still tied the Rampage would get just the break they needed when Philippe Maillet of the Reign was called for a hooking penalty. Just eight seconds of powerplay time was all it took for Jordan Nolan (12) to give the Rampage the go-ahead goal. Kyrou (22), and Jerabek (5) earned assists which completed multiple point nights for the pair. Bobby MacIntyre (5) sealed the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:38. Austin Poganski (15) came away with the assist. Jared Coreau stopped 38 of 40 shots for the Rampage, who earned their sixth road win of the season and second of the road trip. San Antonio also went 3-for-5 on the powerplay.
Vs. San Diego 2/23
A slight panic was caused before the start of Saturday’s game when Kyrou was announced as a late scratch from the Rampage line-up. With the NHL’s trade-deadline looming many fans incorrectly assumed he may be part of a yet-announced trade. During the second period it was announced Kyrou was being called up to the Blues. The second period was also when the Rampage opened the scoring at 7:57 on the powerplay with a goal from Ryan Olsen (8) and assists from Poganski (16) and Jake Walman (8). Exactly two minutes later Nolan scored from a ridiculous angle from the left side net to give the Rampage a 2-0 for the second straight night. Jerabek (6) and Reinke (28) grabbed assists on the Nolan’s powerplay tally. The Gulls would storm back before the second period was over however, scoring two goals within 15 seconds to tie the score 2-2 heading into the third.
MacIntyre (6) from Smith (10) restored the Rampage lead at 1:03 of the third period, but it would be the last lead the team would have as the Gulls roared back with three goals of their own making the score 5-3. Chris Thorburn (2) gave San Antonio a small glimmer of hope when he scored with 19 seconds left, but the game would end 5-4 in favor of San Diego. Conner Bleackley (10) and Klim Kostin (10) picked up the final assists of the game. Jared Coreau appeared to struggle against his former team making 19 saves on 23 shots. The Rampage powerplay went 2-for-3 bring the total to 5-for-8 on the weekend.
San Diego highlights currently unavailable
The Rampage will face some of their former teammates in Colorado when they take on the Eagles (Colorado Avalanche AHL affiliate) in back-to-back games at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, CO. San Antonio shared an affiliation between the Avalanche and the Blues last year making for an interesting game when these two teams meet. The Eagles took both games at the AT&T back near the beginning of the season handing the Rampage two of their seven home losses. Games will be played tonight Tuesday the 26th and tomorrow Wednesday the 27th, both at 8:05 pm CST. The Rampage will finally return home for a Military Appreciation Night match-up against the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators AHL affiliate). The puck drops Friday March 1st at 7:30 pm CST.
Blues Prospects Update
Mitch Reinke continues to have an outstanding rookie season, now leading all rookie defensemen with 34 points, including 6 goals and 28 assists. Reinke has developed into one of the most consistent scoring defensemen on the Rampage. In fact only once this season has Reinke gone five games without registering a point, and that was the first five games of the season. Reinke also has six multiple point efforts, most recent a two assist night last Friday. Most notably the Stillwater, MN native has now tied the franchise record for most points by a rookie defenseman, set by current Florida Panther Keith Yandle back in 2007. Although slightly undersized at 5’11” and undrafted, the former Michigan Tech University Husky has really carved out a name for himself this season.
Although this section is normally focused on Blues prospects, Jordan Nolan deserves some recognition for his contributions to the Rampage this year. As season ticket holder I have seen a few NHL players sent to San Antonio and watched them skate around almost aimlessly, just going through the motions. While many hockey-literate fans understand the AHL is not where hockey players aspire to play, the fans here in San Antonio appreciate when a player comes here to win and not just pick up a paycheck. Nolan has shown up in the Alamo City to win. The two-time Stanley Cup Champion is second on the team in goals with 13, only one back of Kyrou. His 13 goals are the most he has scored in a season since playing for the Soo Greyhounds during the 2009-2010 season when he netted 23 goals. Nolan has also filled a leadership role for the Rampage as an alternate captain on this years team. Interestingly enough, Nolan scored his first career NHL playoff goal against the Blues in 2012 while playing for the LA Kings. Now Nolan looks to help the Blues and the Rampage in any way he can.