By Tony Uminski
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Rampage stumbled and bumbled their way to a 5-2 setback to the suddenly surging Chicago Wolves Friday night at the AT&T Center, dropping into the Central Division basement in the process.
The Rampage have won only seven of their last 26 games (7-13-3-3), and from the start of Friday’s game, it appeared the locals were in for a long night.Just over two minutes into the game, Chicago’s Keegan Kolesar skated untouched down the left wing, cut in and beat San Antonio goaltender Ville Husso with a quick wrist shot on an early power play for a quick Wolves lead.“We were chasing the game from the first shift,” lamented Rampage coach Drew Bannister. “We take a penalty. They score. 1-0.”Even after Austin Poganski connected on both Rampage goalie, it appeared the Wolves, 6-2-2-0 in their last 10 games coming into the contest, had the jump on the home team. A second interference call on defenseman Josh Wesley in the first 10 minutes of the game netted the same result. Goal Chicago – Kolesar, as he looked like Patrick Kane, beating Husso again, this time following his original shot behind the net and scoring off Husso into the cage.For Kolesar, it was his first two goals of the season after missing on his first 38 shots through 24 games after scoring 20 goals last year.“First shift of the second period, we take a penalty, they score, it’s 3-1,” added Bannister after the Wolves opened the second session with Valentin Zykov besting Husso with a seeing-eye wrister over the Rampage goaltender’s left shoulder into the top corner of the net at 1:06.The Wolves never looked back.A Brandon Pirri slapper from the top of the circle to Husso’s left handcuffed the Rampage masked man at nine minutes later, and when after Poganski pulled the Rampage to within two again, Chicago scored a shorthanded goal that brought Adam Wilcox over the boards and put the overwhelmed Husso on the bench.“We did have guys who came to play. Austin Poganski was really good. I thought Ryan Olsen played a physical game. He was moving, but after that you look at our lineup if was tough to find any guys you could really key on,” said Bannister.
Poganski scored his first goal after the Rampage kept the power play pressure on in the Chicago zone to tie the score 1-1 at 5:12 of the opening period. “As the bumper guy in the middle I was able to spread it around a little and get them running around and we had quite a few chances on the first power play there and that creates momentum for our team even if we don’t score.”Then his second of the night was a super individual effort to skate past Wolves defenseman, Zach Whitecloud, and deke Chicago netminder Oscar Dansk to put the puck into an empty net. But the rest of the Rampage were silent on the score sheet.Poganski had a more positive approach on the contest by saying, “We just have to stay out of the box. When we play five-on-five hockey we’re just as good as any team in the league.”But with the current skid of win-one, lose-one hockey, the Rampage are suddenly in last place in the Central Division, but remarkably are just a few points out of the Western Conference playoff picture, mainly because opponents are also struggling for a winning profile. But for San Antonio’s post-season fortunes, this extended homestand before the 10-game annual February sojourn could determine whether or not the Rampage are playing deep into April.“(Standing points) are vital. The players in the dressing room, you’d think they would know it. We’ve talked about it. They’ve gotta start producing on the ice and playing like they understand the urgency that we have to make up some ground here at home before we go on the road,” the frustrated coach continued.“You can say it’s just one of those nights, but I think they’re happening too often of late. Our starts are something we’ve talked about. You can’t take three minors in the first and think you’re going to get guys involved with energy underneath them. The guys have to do a better job managing their sticks, be ready to play when the puck drops in the first period and there isn’t any issues. But until they clean that up and decide that they want to play from the start of the puck, then we’re chasing the game a lot,” said Bannister.To add on to the misery index, the Rampage takes on the Wolves again tomorrow night in a rescheduled game from last Wednesday and then has to play the 20-13-2-1 Toronto Marlies Sunday afternoon for a rough and tumble 3-in-less-than-3 slate.The Marlies are dealing with a serious issue when the players decided to forfeit their game with the Texas Stars Friday night after assistant coach, Rob Davison suffered a medical emergency in front of the team before the game. According to a report in the Toronto Sun, Davison was rushed to the emergency room in an unknown condition, and the team was in a state of shock to compete.
According to the report, “Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, who was with the parent team in Sunrise, Fla., ahead of Sunday’s game against the Panthers, issued a statement: “Following what happened tonight with Rob in front of our players and staff, I consulted with (Marlies GM) Laurence Gilman, (head coach) Greg Moore and the leadership group. I was informed by the leadership group that the entire team was in a state of shock and not comfortable proceeding with tonight’s game. We fully support our players and staff in this matter.” The teams did try to postpone the start of the game twice – first to 7:30 and then to 8:30 without success. As a result the Stars were awarded a 1-0 forfeit win, and leapt ahead of the Rampage in the standings.
The Marlies and Stars are scheduled to play tonight at the HEB Center and hopefully the 39-year old Davison is recovering. Toronto then takes on the Rampage Sunday at 3 and Thursday at 7 at the AT&T Center.