PREVIEW: The San Antonio Rampage (27-32-3-6) kick off the final month of the regular season tonight with a 7 p.m. tilt against the Lake Erie Monsters (28-29-0-9) on an All-You-Can-Eat Night at the AT&T Center. The game is the third of the four-game season series, and the two teams will face off again on Saturday, April 5 to finish up the series. The Rampage are 2-0-0-0 versus the Monsters this season, having outscored them a combined 7-2 in a weekend sweep on Feb. 7-8.
Historically, the Rampage have had immense success when it comes to the Monsters, going 16-9-0-0 overall since the two teams first met during the 2007-08 season. They are 6-5-0-0 at home, and in the seven-year series, have never lost in overtime or shootout. The Rampage come into tonight having dropped their last two games, though they roared to a 5-4 shootout victory over in-state rival Texas on March 27. Lake Erie has lost three-straight, though they’ve picked up two points along the way with two shootout losses to Chicago.
LAST TIME: The Rampage rode two-point nights from Jared Gomes (1g-1a) and Jed Ortmeyer (2a) to a 3-1 victory inside Quicken Loans Arena on Feb. 8. Drew Shore opened the scoring with his second of the year, and Logan Shaw bookended the Gomes goal, scoring his first professional goal with 55 seconds left in regulation to seal the deal for the Rampage. Jacob Markstrom, since traded to Vancouver, made 21-of-22 saves in the win to earn the game’s Second Star, while Gomes earned the First for his efforts. Every single Rampage skater recorded at least one shot on net in the game, with Bobby Butler leading the way with four.
The Monsters got their only goal from Michael Sgarbossa, as he pulled his team within one at the beginning of the third period. Calvin Pickard was in net for the Monsters, and stopped 30-of-33 shots in the loss.
PLAYERS TO WATCH – RAMPAGE: With six points (4g-2a) in his last five games, and points in three-straight games (3g-1a), Wade Megan has been red hot for the Rampage as of late. The Boston University product split the end of the 2012-13 season between San Antonio and ECHL Cincinnati after posting 93 points (49g-34a) in 151 career NCAA games with the Terriers. The Canton, N.Y. native was a fifth round draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, going 138th overall to the Florida Panthers.
Graduating from BU the season prior to Megan’s freshman campaign, Matt Gilroy has goals in back-to-back games from the blueline, scoring a game-tying shorthanded goal in last Friday’s game against Hamilton, and then converting on the power play for the go-ahead goal in Sunday’s tilt against the Bulldogs. With eight games left in the 2013-14 AHL season, the former Hobey Baker winner has an AHL and professional career high nine goals and 20 points.
Bobby Butler has been a driving force for the Rampage all year, and after being a healthy scratch for the March 21 game against Charlotte, the undrafted winger has seven points in his last five games. He tallied a Rampage season-high four points at Charlotte on March 23, adding two goals, including a shorthanded tally, and two assists to lead the team to the 4-2 win. The University of New Hampshire grad was held off the scoresheet in the March 25 game against Oklahoma City, but has an assist in each of his last three games, and leads the Rampage in goals (21), points (45), and is tied with Joey Crabb for first in power-play goals (6).
PLAYERS TO WATCH – MONSTERS: Leading Lake Erie in goals (15) and tied for first in points (43), Mark Olver is riding a Monsters season-best seven-game point streak, with three goals and seven assists dating back to March 16. The center was a fifth round draft pick of Colorado’s in the 2008 draft, and has split time between the Avalanche and Monsters since the 2010-11 season, having appeared in six games with Lake Erie at the tail end of his junior year at Northern Michigan University during the 2009-10 season. Olver played for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers from 2005-07 before playing collegiately, following the same path of the Rampage’s Jed Ortmeyer, who spent two seasons with the Lancers (1997-99) before playing four years at the University of Michigan.
Andrew Agozzino leads the Monsters with 30 assists and ties with Olver for overall points. The left winger extended his assist streak to four games during the Monsters’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Chicago Wolves on Saturday, adding two power-play assists in the defeat. Tied with Agozzino and Olver with six power-play goals, David van der Gulik is 10th in scoring for the Monsters with 16 points, but his tally on Saturday was his 56th in a Monsters uniform, the most of any player in franchise history. A seventh round pick by Calgary in 2002, van der Gulik was a senior at BU during Matt Gilroy’s freshman season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Lake Erie ranks 18th overall on the power play, converting 50 times on 303 chances in 66 games for a 16.5% rate. At home, they jump to 19.4%, with 30 power-play goals in 33 games in front of the Monsters faithful. Their kill sits in the middle of the pack at 15th overall, allowing 56 goals-against through 66 games (82.5%), though like the power play, it improves at home. Shifting up to 84.8%, the Monsters have allowed 25 goals through 33 games on home ice. In their last 10, the Monsters are 6-for-53 on the power play (11.3%), and 48-for-56 on the penalty kill (85.7%).
The Monsters have scored five shorthanded goals on the year, but have allowed six, and have been outscored 72-50 in the third period. They are 18-0-0-3 when leading after two periods, and 1-22-0-2 when trailing heading into the third.
Overall, the San Antonio power play is ranked 16th at 17.1% with 49 goals in 68 games. At home, they’ve been on fire with the extra man, ranking sixth. Of their 49 power-play goals on the season, 31 have come on AT&T Center ice for a 22.1% conversion rate. Their kill is 28th overall, allowing 68 goals-against in 68 games this season (78.7%). At home, the kill operates at 80.3%, allowing 29 goals-against in 31 games. In their last 10, the Rampage are 5-for-31 with the extra man (16.1%), and have allowed 12 power-play goals against (29-for-41, 70.7%).
The Rampage are tied for third in shorthanded goals for with 10, and are tied for first in shorthanded goals against, allowing just one all season. With the third-most shots for in the league (32.88), San Antonio is 10-5-2-2 when outshooting their opponent at home.