Concluding a month-long, 14-game road trip on a positive note, the San Antonio Rampage defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins, 3-2, on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
San Antonio (25-24-3-6) entered Wednesday’s contest with a 4-1-0-0 record against Grand Rapids in 2009-10 and outscored the Griffins 23-14 in the aforementioned five matchups.
In the last meeting between the two clubs, the Rampage defeated the Griffins, 3-2, on January 9 to earn their first victory in Grand Rapids since April 16, 2005.
On Wednesday, the Griffins took an early 1-0 lead, at the 5:58 mark of the first, on a power-play goal by right wing Jan Mursak. Gaining control of the puck on the left faceoff dot in the San Antonio zone, Grand Rapids defenseman Logan Pyett sent a pass to center Cory Emmerton near the right post. Emmerton then one-timed the pass off the stick of Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman to Mursak on the left post, where the winger was waiting to knock in the rebound.
San Antonio tied the game just over three minutes into the second period on right wing Ryan Weston’s third goal of the season. Receiving a feed from center Ryan Hollweg near center ice, left wing Stefan Meyer found Weston in the right faceoff circle of the Grand Rapids zone. Wasting little time, Weston beat Griffins netminder Daniel Larsson from the right circle to knot the game at one goal apiece.
The Rampage then took at 2-1 lead, seven minutes and 53 seconds later, on center Kyle Turris’ 13th goal of the season. After San Antonio defenseman Sean Sullivan fired a quick wrist shot from the right point, Turris dove toward the left post for the rebound before surprising Larsson by slicing a backhand across his body and beating the Griffins netminder low inside the right post.
Continuing to pour on the pressure, Meyer increased the Rampage lead to 3-1 with a goal at the 19:03 mark of the middle frame. Receiving a pass from Sullivan near center ice, Meyer sped into the right side of the Griffins zone before cutting across the crease and beating Larsson low inside the left post.
After squandering third period leads in both of their last two games, San Antonio was reluctant to take the Griffins lightly in the final frame, despite entering the stanza with a 3-1 lead.
Near the midway point of the final frame, at 10:52 of the third, Grand Rapids rookie left wing Tomas Tatar closed the deficit to 3-2. Developing speed after receiving a pass from right wing Jamie Tardif at center ice, Tatar split two Rampage defensemen near the San Antonio blueline before deking Tordjman left and finishing low inside the right post.
However, Tordjman stood tall in the remaining minutes to seal the 3-2 Rampage victory.
The win secured San Antonio’s second-best Rodeo road trip record (7-5-0-2, 16 points) in Rampage franchise history.
Tordjman made 22 saves on 24 Grand Rapids shots, while Larsson turned away 24 of 27 San Antonio attempts in the loss.
San Antonio was 0-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill in the game.
The Rampage will return home to the Alamo City for the first time in nearly a month to host the Manitoba Moose for a 7 p.m. contest on Friday at the AT&T Center.