Bobby MacIntyre’s late third-period goal propelled the Rampage to their 11th straight home victory, a 2-1 win over the Rockford IceHogs at the AT&T Center Tuesday night. The Rampage has also won 15 of their last 16 games in San Antonio.
Trevor Smith and Connor Bleakley forced a Hogs turnover deep in the Rockford zone and found MacIntyre in the slot who drilled it past a surprised Anton Forsberg for the go-ahead goal with 3:18 left in regulation.
“Good forecheck by Bleaker and fortunate the puck went up to Smitty,” said MacIntyre on the process leading up to his second goal of the season. “Smitty made a nice play up to me in the slot and I was fortunate enough to put it in the net.”
Once again the Rampage had to come from behind to keep the good times rolling as Rockford scored first on a scramble in front by Victor Ejdsell at 14:08 of the first period.
But the Rampage drew even at 11:18 of the middle session, when defenseman Mitch Reinke delivered a surgical strike over Hogs goaltender Anton Forsberg’s stick hand from the top of the right circle, with assists from Klim Kostin and MacIntyre. The Rampage improved to a respectable 3-6 when trailing after the first period.
“Good things happen when you work hard,” said Rampage head coach Drew Bannister. “Our commitment, our work ethic when we come to the rink every day, now we’re seeing the rewards of all that.”
Rampage leading scorers of late, Jordan Kyrou and Jordan Nolan were recalled by St. Louis Sunday, leaving the Rampage a little shorthanded in the firepower department.
“We’re really jelling as a team right now,” added the veteran Smith, who’s assist was the 501st of his pro career. “We need to have guys step up when they have the opportunity, but it’s kinda nice to have that mentality, who’s ready to go, and take advantage of that opportunity.”
The Rampage got another solid night of work in the crease from Jared Coreau, who is 4-1 since coming over from the San Diego Gulls in a deal just after the new year. Coreau stopped 26 of 27 Hogs shots, including some stellar work down the stretch when Rockford threatened to score the tying goal.
San Antonio now ventures forth with their next two games in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose this weekend, with a Tuesday night game against the always tough Milwaukee Admirals the next challenge for San Antonio. After Tuesday’s win, the Rampage trail the Admirals by just two points with a 21-18-1 mark.
“It’s an opportunity for us to climb in the standings,” reminded Bannister. “We can close the gap on another team in front of us. That’s going to be our main focus.”
The Rampage are just 2-5-1 in their last eight road games, and are still a mere 4-12-1 away from the AT&T Center, almost a mirror image of their stellar 17-6-0 home record. The last time San Antonio played in Manitoba in October, the Moose swept the two games and outscored the Rampage 10-4, while the Rampage will be looking for their first goal in Milwaukee, as they fell to the Admirals, 3-0 on that same trip when they were in the midst of their eight-game losing streak.
ICE CHIPS — Goaltender Jordan Binnington continues his amazing work in the NHL as the Blues lost in overtime to the New York Islanders, 2-1. Binnington allowed only a regulation goal to Jordan Eberle (is everyone in the hockey named Jordan all of a sudden?) and made 23 saves in the game, but a shot by Valtteri Filppula went in off Binnington in the extra session. The former Rampage netminder, with an AHL leading 2.08 GAA, has stunned the NHL with a 3-0-1 mark, 1.55 GAA and a .937 save percentage since getting a chance to start for the Blues last week.
TRANSACTION ACTION — With the recall of Jordan Nolan and Jordan Kyrou by the Blues Sunday, the Rampage received some help from the ECHL.
Mark Cooper, who had 23 goals last season with the Missouri Mavericks, reported in. This season, Cooper has 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points, tied for 11th in the ECHL scoring race.
Devin Williams also moved up from Tulsa after being named ECHL Goaltender of the Week, exchanging places with Evan Fitzpatrick. The Blues second-round pick was backing up Jake Allen in the NHL for a week and Jared Coreau here for another week and the rust was beginning to show. Williams arrives with a 3-0-0 record against Rapid City with 1.34 goals against average last week with the Oilers.
Overall, Williams is 14-8-4 with an ECHL third-best GAA of 2.23 on the season.
RAMPAGE ALUMNI REPORT — Former Rampage forward Connor Brickley is on the move again. Brickley, who surprised most pundits scoring one more goal in his rookie season here than he scored in all his four years at the University of Vermont (22-21). The former Panthers second-round pick has scored 5-12-17 in 67 NHL games and was traded to the New York Rangers organization by the Nashville Predators for Cole Schneider. Brickley had 7-4-11 in 39 games with the Milwaukee Admirals and former Rampage players Duncan Siemens and Rocco Grimaldi and will join the Hartford Wolfpack. Brickley, the nephew of Boston Bruins color analyst and former NHL defenseman Andy Brickley, will hang with former Rampagers Bobby Butler, Matt Beleskey, Shawn St. Amant and Chris Bigras in Connecticut.
Brickley has kept his bags packed since beginning his career full time in 2014, with stops in Portland, Maine, Charlotte and Milwaukee along with his NHL games in Florida with the Panthers.
FROM THE RAMPAGE REPOSITORY — Five years ago, Logan Shaw scored the winner in a 5-4 shootout win over the Milwaukee Admirals. Shaw, who was just in the AT&T Center with Manitoba, was joined on the shootout scoring sheet by current Florida Panthers star winger Vincent Trocheck, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom, in relief of Rob Madore, stopped 17 of 19 shots. Joey Crabb scored two goals, with Bobby Butler, and Wade Megan getting the other markers. Defenseman Matt Gilroy, playing the last five years in Europe, added two assists. Markstrom is 18-12-3 this season for the Vancouver Canucks with a 2.83 GAA.