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Rampage right wing Matt Watkins scored the lone goal as San Antonio fell 5-1 to the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night at Rockford MetroCentre. The Rampage remain in the playoff chase as they have acquired 79 points on the year with a 37-28-3-2 record.
Rockford was the first to jump on the scoreboard as center Jeff Taffe netted his 24th goal of the season 11:07 after the initial puck drop. Brandon Pirri fed Taffe a centering pass from the right wing boards as he then fired a shot to the high stick side of Rampage goaltender Matt Climie for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Rockford extended their lead to 2-0 when Ryan Stanton’s shot from the left point deflected off Climie’s blocker and into the back of the net.
The Rampage cut the deficit in half to 2-1 when Watkins scored on the power play at the 10:53 mark of the second period. IceHogs netminder Hannu Toivonen made a kick save sending Garrett Stafford’s shot to the right goal post where Watkins was positioned to pick up the rebound and shoot on a tight angle that went past Toivonen’s skate and into the back of the net. Dane Byers provided the additional helper.
Rockford pushed their lead to 3-1 when Mathis Olimb passed across the crease to right wing Ben Smith, who tapped the puck low glove side of Climie with 1:44 remaining in the middle stanza.
The IceHogs made it a 4-1 game when right wing Igor Makarov received the puck in the slot and shot a one-timer that hit the left goal post and bounced into the back of the net on the power play at the 2:50 mark of the third period.
IceHogs defenseman Stanton recorded his first multi-goal game of his professional career as he netted his second goal of the night 4:14 into the final frame as his shot from below the right faceoff circle went over Climie’s left shoulder to seal the 5-1 victory.
Climie finished the night with 22 saves on 27 IceHogs shot attempts while Toivonen stopped 39 of 40 Rampage shots on net.
The Rampage continue with their five-game road trip as they travel to Carver Arena to face the Peoria Rivermen in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday night with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m.