Goals by Connor Bleackley, Jordan Kyrou, and Jordan Nolan, along with a solid night in net by newcomer Jared Coreau led the Rampage to their ninth straight win at home and 11th in their last 14 games, 3-1 over the Iowa Wild. The Rampage is now 4-0 against the division-leading Wild this season.
The Rampage is now above .500 for the first time since opening night at 19-18-1 and trail the Rockford Ice Hogs, their opponent for the next two games, by just one point in the Central Division standings for sixth place. They also trail Texas for the last divisional playoff spot by only six points.
After spotting the Wild a 1-0 first-period lead, Bleackley led the charge up ice and scored high up in the net 29 seconds after the Iowa goal. Joey LaLeggia and Jakub Jerabek assisted on the goal at 10:17.
“Tonight we managed the puck much better,” said Rampage coach Drew Bannister. “Early on they were pushing pretty hard. We had to rely on our goaltending. But we came out next shift, tie that game up.”
Kyrou’s goal was a thing of beauty as Bobby MacIntyre made a great play in front of the Iowa bench to control the puck, send it cross-ice to Niko Mikkola which created a ton of space. Meanwhile, Trevor Smith tracked down Mikkola’s pass along the left wing boards and sent a pass on the tape to Kyrou in the slot who’s shot beat former Rampage goaltender Andrew Hammond above the glove for a 2-1 lead.
“Obviously a great transition with Smitty making that play to Jordan Kyrou,” said Bannister. “Overall a good effort.”
Nolan’s goal appeared to occur in slow motion as team captain Chris Butler shot the puck from the point on the power play, only to have San Antonio’s Adam Musil get a stick on it to temper the speed of the shot as it approached Hammond. Nolan somehow got under the puck as it was just about to be caught by Hammond and gently lifted it into the net, making the disc appear to be manipulated by a puppetmaster as it floated in the cage.
Meanwhile, back at the other end of the ice, Coreau, in only his third Rampage game, stopped 31 of 32 Wild tries in improving his record to 2-1 since joining the team in a trade with Anaheim.
“The guys have been helping me out and a lot of cases when you make a big save you need them to clear out the rebound and I think they’ve done a really good job with that,” said the Calder Cup champion when he played with Grand Rapids in 2017.
Bannister was pleased with the team’s effort from stem to stern on this night. “I thought our D made great plays getting back on pucks and making smart plays.”
The Rampage fell one Schmaltz short of a Jordan hat trick, as Nolan and Kyrou scored goals, while newly reassigned defenseman Jordan Schmaltz didn’t get an official shot on goal, but led the rush midway through the third period and appeared ready to make it 4-1. Last year’s Rampage All-Star got a nice endorsement from Bannister after the game.
“I think he looked good, but I think he looked tired. Rightfully so. I think we had to back off his ice time in the third. I saw more jump because of it. He hasn’t played a lot of hockey in a while. It’s gonna be a work in progress to get him up to speed and that was a really good test. They’re a fast hockey club.”
The Rampage now hosts the Rockford Ice Hogs Saturday and Tuesday before heading to Manitoba and Milwaukee for road games next weekend.
RAMPAGE ALUMNI REPORT — Former defenseman Cody Goloubef was traded to the Ottawa Senators organization. Goloubef signed with the Boston Bruins last summer after representing Canada at the Olympics last year. The nine-year pro played just a couple of games here, as the Colorado Avalanche called him up shortly after he arrived from the Columbus BlueJackets in a trade for Ryan Stanton.
ON THIS DAY IN RAMPAGE HISTORY — On Jan. 11, 2013, Jon Rheault scored twice and goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris turned aside 21 Lake Erie shots as the Rampage beat the Monsters, 4-2 in front of 7,865 fans. Coach Chuck Weber’s club peppered future Rampage goaltender Calvin Pickard with 42 shots, with Drew Shore getting the winning goal, his ninth of the year, from Casey Wellman and Nolan Yonkman in the third period. One of the Lake Erie forwards that night was AHL rookie Andrew Agozzino, who would score 35 goals in two seasons with the Rampage, and was selected for this year’s AHL All-Star Game with the Colorado Eagles.