With hundreds of four-legged canine friends on hand to enhance an already boisterous “Pucks and Paws Night” crowd, the San Antonio Rampage defeated the Milwaukee Admirals by a 5-1 score on Saturday evening at the AT&T Center.
The win marked the first AHL head coaching victory for new Rampage head coach, Ray Edwards, and first San Antonio victory for new Rampage assistant coach, Mike Pelino.
The Rampage, who were winless in their previous eleven games prior to Saturday’s contest, entered the game with aspirations of obtaining an early lead against a road-weary Milwaukee club that was playing its fourth road game in five nights.
Sure enough, San Antonio kept to their game plan and opened the scoring 1:17 into the game. After intercepting a Milwaukee pass near the Rampage blueline, San Antonio center Kyle Turris found left wing Jeff Hoggan on the right side of the neutral zone. Hoggan then carried the puck into the Milwaukee zone and fired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle off the side of Milwaukee netminder Chet Pickard’s glove, where Rampage right wing Chad Kolarik was waiting to knock in the rebound.
About eight minutes later, San Antonio added to their lead on left wing Brett MacLean’s power-play goal, which also marked San Antonio’s second man-advantage goal in their last 45 attempts. Following a flurry in front of the Admirals net, as a result of two quick shots from the right of the crease by centers Joel Perrault and Colin Long, MacLean poked in a loose puck to increase the Rampage lead to 2-0.
Exactly half way through the second period, MacLean picked up right where he left off, scoring his second power-play goal of the game and team-leading fifth power-play goal of the season. Kevin Porter jumpstarted the play by controlling the puck just inside Milwaukee’s blueline before finding Perrault near the right faceoff circle. Perrault then curled toward the goal and sent a one-timer pass to MacLean, who immediately beat Pickard low to the stick side to provide San Antonio with a three-goal cushion. Following the goal, Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert replaced Pickard with fellow netminder Mark Dekanich.
The Admirals found the scoreboard late in the second period on a power-play goal by left wing Ryan Jones. Entering the center of the Rampage zone with the puck, Milwaukee center Colin Wilson dropped the puck for defenseman Robert Dietrich, who then quickly fired a wrist-shot that rebounded off San Antonio goaltender Josh Tordjman’s pads and into the crease. Jones then muscled through multiple Rampage defensemen and beat Tordjman through the five-hole to move the score to 3-1.
However, the relentless San Antonio offense refused to relinquish any momentum and countered Milwaukee’s tally with a goal of their own, with only 42 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Playing four-on-four as a result of coincidental slashing penalties to Perrault and Milwaukee right wing Chris Mueller, Porter worked a give and go with Kolarik near the Admirals blueline. Upon receiving the puck on the right boards, Kolarik entered the Milwaukee zone and threaded a return pass back to Porter through the stick of a Milwaukee defenseman, before Porter lifted a backhander past Dekanich and into the top left corner of the net to increase San Antonio’s lead to 4-1.
With their offensive wheels turning, the Rampage added to their lead, for the final time at the 6:54 mark of the third. Taking advantage of strong puck movement in the Milwaukee zone, MacLean gained control of the puck behind the Admirals net and sent a pass to Perrault on the half wall. Perrault then connected with defenseman Sean Sullivan on the left point on a one-timed slap shot past Dekanich to cap off a 5-1 victory.
Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman provided San Antonio with a stellar performance at a time when they needed it most, stopping 31 of 32 Milwaukee shots and weathering five of six Admiral power plays for his third victory of the season. Pickard allowed three goals on 23 shots for the loss, while Dekanich turned away 10 of the 12 Rampage shots he faced after entering the game in the second period. San Antonio outshot Milwaukee by a 35 to 32 margin on the evening.
The Rampage return to action this Thursday in Houston, when they battle the Aeros in an 11 a.m. “Lone Star Faceoff” matchup at Toyota Center.