Story by Tony Uminski
SAN ANTONIO – Goals by newcomers Mike Vecchione and Nathan Walker, and staunch netminding from Ville Husso got the Rampage off and running for the 2019-20 season with a 2-1 win over the Manitoba Moose Friday night at the AT&T Center.
Vecchinone, who played in the Philadephia organization the past two seasons, sent a pass toward the net that went in off a Moose skate at 8:58 of the first period on the power play as the Rampage stormed the Manitoba net, outshooting the visitors 8-1 in the game’s first 11 minutes. Familiar names Mitch Reinke and Jordan Nolan assisted.
The Rampage connected again in the second period when Walker skated down the left-wing, faked a slapshot and wristed the puck past Moose goaltender Mikhail Berdin at 4:38 for what proved to be the game-winner. “Dotchin made a great play up on the weak side there, and I just tried to wait the goalie out. Went five-hole,” said the native of Cardiff, Wales. Klim Kostin also assisted.
Husso allowed a late second period Moose goal on a screened shot with just four seconds left in the period, but turned aside from the other 21 shots that tested the now veteran San Antonio masked man.
“It’s nice to be back. It was a tough season last year (6-18-0 record) couple injuries and stuff,” said the former fourth-round St. Louis draft pick in 2014. “It was a good summer for me. I feel a little bit better than last year. Overall I feel so much better.”
The Rampage outshot the Moose, 35-23, with defenseman Jake Walman leading the way with five attempts, while Austin Poganski, Nick Lappin and Nolan each getting four shots off on the Manitoba cage.
The Tucson Roadrunners are in Sunday after shutting out the Texas Stars in Cedar Park, 2-0, Friday night. Faceoff is at 3 p.m. at the AT&T Center.
Rampage Notebook – Right winger Zach Nastasiuk played on the Calder Cup-winning Charlotte Checkers last season and is a former 2nd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings…defenseman Jake Dotchin played in his 100th NHL game when he laced them up against Ottawa last January with the Anaheim Ducks…Ryan Olsen, who enjoyed an AHL career season last year with 17-17-34 in 69 games, traded in his #45 for #19 this season…holdovers from last season, Joey LaLeggia and Nolan Stevens, were opening night scratches…defenseman Andreas Borgman’s first Rampage shot clanged off the post just: 15 into the season. Borgman was a member of the Calder winning Toronto Marlies two years ago…looked like Nathan Walker talked the refs out of calling a penalty on him just under two minutes into the game after he shot the puck at Manitoba goalie Mikhail Berdin.
The Rampage were offside and a late whistle from the linesman meant Walker took the shot and referee Reid Anderson appeared ready to send him off for unsportsmanlike conduct before linesman Carl Sasyn explained everything, which included cooling off Moose players upset with the late shot after the whistle…the Rampage sent the first six shots on net in the game’s first 5:38…Moose winger Jansen Harkins inadvertently saved a possible Rampage goal by tying up the aforementioned Borgman after the Swedish blueliner crushed a Moose teammate on the backboards. The Rampage were on a 3-on-2 breakout when the whistle blew while the two tangled on the ice…rightwinger Nick Lappin has 123 points in 168 AHL games, mostly with the Devils teams in Albany and Binghampton, including 31 goals two years ago.
The Rampage outshot the Moose, 8-1 in the game’s first 11:32…not sure how the brass likes former first-round pick Klim Kostin falling on his back with Manitoba’s JC Lipon on top of him after a scrum in the crease…Husso’s huge left pad save on Andrei Chibisov to stop 2-on-1 early in the second period flashed pleasant thoughts of “Vintage Ville” through the minds of Rampage fans. At the other end of the period with 90 seconds left, Husso denied Luke Green twice, kicking out the first shot and smothering the rebound as well…an opening night crowd of 7,194 overcame high school football and 94 degree temps to watch the Rampage victory.