Story by Tony Uminski

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Rampage’s defense withstood the Rockford IceHogs for 59 minutes and 57 seconds. Then, the defense disappeared.

The IceHogs scored with just over two seconds remaining to tie the score, and then, stunned the crowd of 3,328 with the winner just 16 seconds into overtime for a 3-2 Rockford win.

The Rampage led for all but those 2.4 seconds, officially scored at 19:57 by Tyler Sikura, who also tallied the first Hogs goal at the 10:00 mark of the third period.

“We lost a hockey game,” said Rampage head coach Drew Bannister tersely after the game. “We were looking for direct plays when they’re not there. I thought we were trying to force plays in the middle when they weren’t there. We were making indirect plays off the wall. I think we got a little cute on the plays we were trying to make in the middle of the ice which we didn’t want to make.”

The Rampage were in command after 20 minutes with a 2-0 edge thanks to goals from Ryan Olsen and defenseman Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot scored off a faceoff with just 5.4 seconds on the clock with a beautiful wrist shot over Rockford goalie Matt Tomkins left shoulder.

“I thought the first period was outstanding,” said Bannister.

It was announced after the game that Pouliot, a veteran of 200 NHL games with Vancouver and Pittsburgh, was recalled to the St. Louis Blues along with Rampage leading scorer, Nathan Walker.

For Olsen, his goal, a dribbling puck that slowly slid across the goal line after Olsen’s second whack at it just 3:30 into the game, ended a 31-shot scoreless streak to start the season, nabbing his first goal in his 19th game.

“We’ve talked about throwing pucks to the net,” said Olsen, who scored 17 in his Rampage debut last season. “I was going to the net hard. Poganski made a great play to put it there, and I just stuck with it. Got a bounce finally.”

Olsen has been a reliable scorer in his career, so struggling offensively has been out of character for the former Winnipeg Jets draft pick. “It was tough at the start (not scoring). I put a lot of pressure on myself. Talking with people. Stick with it. Play simple. Play hard. The bounces will come eventually.”

“I just focused on getting two points for our team. If I’m not scoring, I’m doing something else…win faceoffs, do well on the PK, get pucks out, be hard to play against.”

Goaltender Adam Wilcox kept the Rampage in the game with timely saves, especially on a wrist shot by Anton Wedin, left alone between the circles 12 minutes into the second period. The veteran playing in his 150th pro game took away the net by aggressively skating a foot beyond the goal crease and gloved the shot with extreme prejudice.

“I think Adam’s played very well for us,” added Bannister. “We kinda left him out to dry there in the overtime. Tough break on the last one to tie the game. They get a lucky bounce. It goes off our D’s shin pad and right to them. That’s hockey. I think the opportunity for us to win the hockey game was when it was 2-0 and playing smart hockey.”

Then, just 16 seconds into the extra session, Jacob Nilsson scored on a breakaway, with his shot over Wilcox’s glove to end it almost before the overtime rules were read.

Olsen said, “There’s really no excuse for (losing as they did). We have to bear down to win that game. No exceptions. We just have to bounce back Tuesday.”

Rockford, by the way, fell Saturday night to Texas, 7-6, in a wild shootout Saturday night that ended the Stars’ record 12-game winless streak. The Stars have four wins this season, but only one in regulation. The IceHogs don’t move on. They’ll be back Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. rematch with the Rampage.

What’s the feeling in the Rampage room after the tough loss that saw the team turn a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 overtime loss in 18.4 seconds of clock time?

“I’m sure those guys are disappointed,” added Bannister. “I would think they would know what to do to have success because what they didn’t do in the last two periods to me is not the way we need to play. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We get a point out of it that we’re not happy with so we got to find ways to get those points back.”

RAMPAGE RAMBLINGS:  Walker had a point in four of the last six Rampage games, including a career-best five-point night in the road win in Chicago last week…Mike Vecchione won the draw that set up Pouliot’s master shot at the end of the first period, giving the Salem, Massachusetts native points in four of the last five games…Pouliot, who leads AHL defensemen in power-play points and assists, has scored at least one point in 14 of the Rampage’s first 20 games this season.

Wilcox has played his 150 games in Rochester, Syracuse, and Springfield in the AHL. The former Hobey Baker Award finalist for his exceptional play with the University of Minnesota Gophers has played in one memorable NHL game with the Buffalo Sabres, with an 0-1-0 record but without allowing a goal! How does that happen?

In a game against Florida, Wilcox replaced the Sabres starter after falling behind 3-0, making 14 saves. Near the end of the third period, the Sabres pull to within 3-2, pull Wilcox for the extra skater and the Panthers score into the empty net. The Sabres scored again to make it 4-3, but cannot tie the game. Wilcox gets the loss since he technically was the goalie of record when the empty-net goal, a fourth of the game for Florida and the eventual game-winner, was scored. Thus, Wilcox currently has a 0.00 NHL goals-against average in 39 minutes of play, but an 0-1 record with a 1.000 percent save percentage!

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.


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