ONTARIO – Sammy Blais made his long-awaited return from the injury list and he let everyone know how badly the San Antonio Rampage missed his presence on the ice.
Blais recorded his first career hat trick to lift the Rampage to a 4-0 shutout win over the Ontario Reign (29-20-4-2) in front of 8,685 fans at Citizens Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
After a scoreless first period, the Silver and Black got on the scoreboard in the second. Felix Girard opened the scoring after he collected his own rebound and put into the back of the net at 1:42. Blais began his scoring onslaught just before intermission when he redirected Vladislav Kamenev’s shot into the net for a power-play tally and a 2-0 San Antonio lead.
Blais added two more goals in the final frame to complete his first career hatty. First, he completed a backdoor pass from Kamenev at 9:43 and finally he banged home the rebound into the net for his second power-play goal of the day.
The victory for San Antonio is their second straight and gives them momentum going into their California finale in San Diego on Tuesday.
Here is what went good and bad for the Rampage, as well as three standout players: Blais, Kamenev, and Girard.
- Sam Blais returned to the lineup after missing time with an LBI, making it known he was back in a big way.
- Vladislav Kamenev also returned and his chemistry with Blais was obvious from the opening shift.
- San Antonio recorded another shutout and collected two points against a team that is ahead of them in the standings.
- The Rampage power-play was clicking for the first time in weeks. The Silver and Black went 2-for-3 on the man advantage, scoring their first power-play goal since Feb. 2 at home against the Texas Stars.
- San Antonio was very disciplined as they committed just one minor penalty and killed it off in style.
- San Antonio won 4-0 on a Blais hat trick. There was nothing bad this time.
Three Standout Players:
Sammy Blais: Sam Blais made his return to the Rampage lineup after missing time with a lower-body injury. It shows what NHL caliber players can do for a San Antonio squad, whose slim playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.
Blais quickly showed the Rampage what they were missing as he crashed the net for a rebound, played aggressively on the puck, and his chemistry gave the Rampage easily their best performance in weeks. If Sammy can stay hot the rest of the regular season, the Silver and Black could slip their way into that final playoff spot.
Vladislav Kamenev: The Colorado Avalanche prospect played in his first game since November 16 and was sent down to San Antonio on a conditioning assignment. His performance on Sunday most likely gave the Avs brass something to smile about.
Kamenev had a three-point afternoon as he assisted on all three goals by Blais. He showed no effects from a broken forearm and let me tell you, some of those assists were beautiful.
🚨 Samuel Blais
🍎Vladislav Kamenev (11), Zach Sanford (1) pic.twitter.com/WsphgPVvIf
— San Antonio Rampage (@sarampage) March 12, 2018
Ville Husso: The St. Louis Blues prospect had another solid afternoon in net, collecting Second Star of the Night honors.
Husso turned away all Ontario 21 shots he faced and with a great offensive output by Blais, he made it look easy. With Blues coach Mike Yeo in attendance on Sunday, we are pretty sure he was all smiles after the solid games from both Husso and Blais.
The Rampage are now 29-24-9-0 (67 points, 0.540%) on the season and will return to the ice on Tuesday when they take on the San Diego Gulls (30-20-3-1) at 9 p.m. inside Valley View Casino Center.