In his first career game as head coach in the American Hockey League, Ray Edwards received a valiant effort from his San Antonio Rampage club before falling just short in a 2-1 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals at the AT&T Center on Tuesday evening.
On the heels of Friday night’s contest that saw the Rampage and Peoria Rivermen combine for 153 penalty minutes, Tuesday’s matchup against Milwaukee featured only 14 combined penalty minutes and disciplined play by both teams.
San Antonio was forced to change goaltenders only four minutes into the game as Rampage netminder Al Montoya suffered an upper-body injury and was replaced by Josh Tordjman.
Milwaukee opened the scoring at the 16:43 mark of the first on a goal by Admirals right wing Chris Mueller. Following a slap shot from the point by Milwaukee defenseman Robert Dietrich, a rebound found the stick of Admirals center Nick Spaling. Spaling then fired a backhand shot off Tordjman’s stick with Mueller waiting on the left post to poke in the rebound and provide Milwaukee with a 1-0 lead.
After tying the Admirals in shots, with 10 apiece in the opening stanza, San Antonio emerged from the dressing room in the second period looking to maintain the pressure.
Unfortunately for the Rampage, early in the second period Tordjman was struck in the face by the stick of a Milwaukee player. After being attended to by the training staff the Admirals struck again, on the ensuing faceoff, with a goal by veteran center Dave Scatchard. After winning a draw from the left faceoff circle, Milwaukee center Cal O’Reilly skated toward Tordjman with the puck and faked a shot before finding Scatchard on the right post at 3:48 of the second to increase the lead to 2-0.
However, San Antonio refused to give in and eventually closed the deficit in half at the 12:52 mark of the second on center Joel Perrault’s team-leading ninth goal of the season. Entering the right side of the Milwaukee zone with speed after receiving a forwarding pass by Rampage defenseman Robbie Bina, San Antonio center Kevin Porter stopped on a dime near the top of the right faceoff circle and sent a one-timer pass to Perrault in the high slot. Perrault then rocketed a slap shot low to the stick side of Admirals’ netminder Chet Pickard to send the score to 2-1.
Down by one goal entering the final session, the Rampage controlled play for the majority of the third frame, outshooting the Admirals, for the second consecutive period and coming close on a variety of chances during two power play opportunities late in the contest.
With time winding down late in the third, Edwards elected to pull Tordjman in exchange for an extra attacker and the ploy almost paid off. Controlling and working the puck around in Milwaukee’s zone, San Antonio inundated Pickard with shots, only to see the Admirals netminder elevate his play in the critical moments of the game and maintain Milwaukee’s lead until the final buzzer sounded.
The Rampage outshot the Admirals by a 33-21 margin and tied their season-low shots against total as a result of solid San Antonio defensive play.
Pickard made 32 saves on 33 San Antonio shots for the victory, while Tordjman turned away 16 of 18 Milwaukee shots after relieving Montoya in the first period.
The Rampage and Admirals return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the AT&T Center for a special Pucks and Paws experience in which fans can bring their dog to the game.