In a wild St. Patrick’s Day contest featuring a combined six power-play goals and six lead changes, the “luck of the Irish” was not with San Antonio in the end as the Rampage fell to the Peoria Rivermen, 6-5, in overtime at the AT&T Center.
Hosting Peoria in the Alamo City for the third time in only nine days, San Antonio (32-28-4-6) entered Wednesday with a four-game home winning streak, a 2-1-0-0 record at home against Peoria this season and only four points separating the Rampage from a potential playoff spot.
The Rampage entered the contest ranked second among American Hockey League clubs in home power-play percentage (23.8), while Peoria owned the AHL’s second-best road power-play percentage (21.6). Thus, the two clubs expected power-play prowess to reign supreme in determining a victor, but neither could have foreseen a game that saw six of the eleven total goals scored on the man-advantage.
The Rampage opened the scoring at the 1:55 mark of the first on defenseman David Schlemko’s 5th goal of the season. Gaining possession of the puck on the Peoria blueline, center Kyle Turris forwarded a pass to left wing Alexandre Picard at the top of the left faceoff circle in the Peoria zone. Picard then found Schlemko at the top of the right faceoff circle where the blueliner beat Rivermen netminder Ben Bishop high to the glove side on a wrist shot.
Peoria tied the game at one goal apiece at the 8:10 mark with a goal by defenseman Tyson Strachan. Receiving a pass from center Brett Sonne on the right point, Peoria blueliner Nate Guenin quickly sent a pass across the San Antonio blueline to Strachan, where the defenseman one-timed a low slap shot past Rampage goaltender Josh Tordjman.
Five minutes and 47 seconds later, the Rivermen took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal by right wing Barry Tallackson. Controlling the puck at the bottom of the right faceoff circle in the Rampage zone, Peoria rookie center Lars Eller connected with Tallackson on the left post, where the right wing beat Tordjman high to the stick side.
With 31 seconds remaining in the opening frame, San Antonio tied the game at 2-2 with a power-play goal by defenseman Sean Sullivan. After finding a loose puck in slot of the Peoria zone, Turris found right wing Mikkel Boedker on the left point. Wasting little time, Boedker then sent a sharp pass to Sullivan at the bottom of the right faceoff dot, where the blueliner was waiting to one-time a low snap shot past Bishop.
Early in the second, Sullivan and Picard were both denied on breakaways by Bishop.
At 7:07 Peoria reclaimed the lead, on the power-play, when Rivermen right wing Adam Cracknell redirected a shot by rookie center Lars Eller past Tordjman.
A minute and six seconds later, San Antonio found themselves on their own power play and Picard evened the score at 3-3. Following a faceoff win by Turris in the left faceoff circle of the Peoria zone, defenseman Shaun Heshka found Schlemko in the high slot, where the blueliner fired a high wrist shot that was tipped in front by Picard past Bishop.
To continue the power-play goal barrage, Peoria took a 4-3 lead at the 18:41 mark of the second on Cracknell’s second man-advantage goal of the game. Eller entered high slot of San Antonio zone and found right wing Pascal Pelletier on the left faceoff dot. With a Rampage defenseman draped over him, Pelletier found Cracknell on the right post, where the winger beat Tordjman high to the glove side.
Refusing to give in, San Antonio tied the contest for the fourth time of the evening on left wing Brett MacLean’s team-leading 13th power-play goal of the season at 6:18 of the third. Working his way through a crowd of Rivermen players in the high slot of the Peoria zone, MacLean used a Peoria blueliner as a screen before firing a knee-high wrist shot past Bishop to even the score at 4-4.
At the 14:30 mark of the third, San Antonio took a 5-4 lead when MacLean and Picard broke in all alone on Bishop before Picard connected on a one-timer on the left post.
However, at 17:24 of the third, Peoria defenseman Dan Boyle fired a shot from the right point that redirected off of a Rampage defenseman’s back and into the San Antonio net to tie the game and stun the crowd of 4,200.
Neither team scored in the final 2:36 of regulation, thus sending the game to overtime.
A minute and 35 seconds into overtime, Peoria center Julian Talbot notched the game-winner for the Rivermen to provide Peoria with a 6-5 overtime victory.
Tordjman made 38 saves on 44 Peoria shots in the loss, while Bishop turned away 29 of 34 San Antonio shots for the victory.
San Antonio was 3-for-6 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill in the game.
The overtime loss moves the Rampage to within three West Division standings points of the fourth-place Milwaukee Admirals and final West Division playoff spot.
The Rampage will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Chicago to take on the Chicago Wolves in a 7 p.m. contest at Allstate Arena.