Tasting victory on Valentines Day for the first time in franchise history, the San Antonio Rampage downed the Milwaukee Admirals by a 2-1 score on Sunday at the Bradley Center.
Receiving stellar goaltending from Justin Pogge and a late goal by right wing Mikkel Boedker, San Antonio swept the three-game weekend against West Division rivals to begin the second leg of their Rodeo road trip 3-0-0-0.
Battling the Admirals for the eighth and final time of the 2009-10 season, San Antonio (24-20-3-6) entered Sunday’s contest with records of 1-4-0-2 overall and 0-3-0-0 in Milwaukee this season.
Sunday’s game featured the return of San Antonio forwards Jeff Hoggan and Boedker, who were reassigned to the Rampage earlier in the day by the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.
The Admirals outshot the Rampage by a 14-8 margin in a scoreless first period that featured strong penalty killing by both clubs as referee Ian Croft whistled a total of five penalties in the opening frame.
Milwaukee then broke the scoreless tie at the 2:11 mark of the second stanza on right wing Ryan Maki’s third goal of the season. Carrying the puck into the right side of the Rampage zone, Admirals center Mark Van Guilder dropped a pass for Maki near the right faceoff dot, where the winger beat Pogge low inside the left post to provide Milwaukee with a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes and 37 seconds later, San Antonio tied the game at 1-1 with a goal by right wing Matt Watkins. After Admirals defenseman Robert Dietrich fanned on a shot on the right point of the Milwaukee zone, San Antonio right wing Matt Watkins raced down the ice on a breakaway and fired a shot off Admirals netminder Chet Pickard’s leg pads with the rebound bouncing into the air and then off the leg of a Milwaukee defenseman and into the Admirals net.
Rampage left wing Brett MacLean was credited with an assist on Watkins’ goal, extending his current point streak to five games.
Heading to the third period knotted at 1-1 for the second consecutive night, San Antonio hoped to end the contest with a win in regulation.
Fortunately, the Rampage received their wish as Boedker notched the game-winner at the 17:18 mark of the third. Feeling pressure on the right half wall of the Admirals zone, Milwaukee left wing Peter Olvecky attempted to reverse the puck behind the Admirals net, only to see Hoggan intercept the disc in the right corner and send a pass to Boedker in the slot. The left-handed Boedker then dragged the puck along the top of the crease before beating a sprawling Pickard high inside the left post to provide San Antonio with a 2-1 lead that stood until the game’s conclusion.
Pogge made 27 saves on 28 Milwaukee shots for his 10th victory of the season, while Pickard stopped 29 of 31 San Antonio shots in the loss.
San Antonio was 0-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in the game.
The Rampage continue their Rodeo road trip on Wednesday when they travel to Allstate Arena in Chicago to take on the Chicago Wolves in a 7:00 p.m. CST matchup.