AT&T Center – San Antonio Rampage Head Coach Dean Chenoweth said it best, Mikko Rantanen is a special player. In their second game of the weekend, the 19-year-old showed just how special he can be.
Rantanen posted his first North American Professional hat trick as he led the Rampage to a 5-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors in front of 6,091 fans at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.
A Rampage turnover led to Dillon Simpson getting Bakersfield on the board first at 13:50 of the first period. The goal would stand as the only tally of the opening 20 minutes as the visitors took the one-goal lead into the second period.
San Antonio would tie the game in the middle frame. Maxim Noreau fired a rocket past Bakersfield goaltender Laurent Brossoit at 14:09 for a power play goal. The Silver and Black found success on the man advantage later in he period as Rantanen put home the puck with a nice move around the defense to give the Rampage a 2-1 lead going into the final frame.
The Rampage extended their lead in the third period as Rantanen intercepted the puck and fired home a wraparound attempt to make it a 3-1 game. The 19-year old completed the hat trick just over two minutes later with a nice backhand shot to give San Antonio a three goal lead.
Bakersfield stopped the Rampage run with a tally from Jujhar Khaira at 15:09, but Colin Smith sealed the 5-2 win for the good guys with an empty net goal just over two minutes later.
“I’m feeling good,” Rantanen said. “I was happy with how the team played too. The first two periods were a bit tough, but we played better and took the win.”
San Antonio outshot Bakersfield 39-35, including 12-10 in the opening period. The Silver and Black connected on 2-of-7 power play chances, with one of those coming off the stick of the 19-year-old rookie.
“When you get a guy like him (Rantanen) back in your lineup it makes guys around him better,” Chynoweth said. “It was good to see him get rewarded like that tonight.”
Roman Will stopped 37 of 39 shots for the win, earning him the Third Star of the Game.
The Rampage are now 18-18-7-0 (43 points) on the season and will return to the ice tomorrow afternoon to face the Texas Stars at 4 p.m. at the AT&T Center to complete their three-in-three weekend.