A day after being named the American Hockey League’s Man of the Year, goaltender Josh Tordjman was the man of the night on Saturday as the San Antonio Rampage netminder shut out the first-place Chicago Wolves, 3-0, in front of 7,819 at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (34-30-5-7) entered Saturday’s game winless (0-6-0-1) against a Chicago club that held a firm grasp on first place in the West Division and clinched a birth in the Calder Cup playoffs with a victory over the Rampage in Chicago on March 21.
In the previous seven contests between the two clubs this season, the Wolves outscored the Rampage by a 30-17 margin.
The Rampage dictated play early on in the contest, outshooting Chicago 11-7 in a scoreless opening frame that saw San Antonio hit two posts and control puck possession time.
Carrying their momentum into the second stanza, San Antonio opened the scoring at the 2:58 mark of the second on right wing Matt Watkins’ 10th goal of the season. Controlling the puck in the right corner of the Wolves’ zone, forward Josh Lunden then cut behind the Chicago net and passed to center Gavin Morgan in the left corner. Morgan then fed the puck to Watkins in the slot, where the right wing fired a spin-around backhand shot over Wolves netminder Drew MacIntyre’s glove to provide San Antonio with a 1-0 lead.
The Rampage then took a 2-0 lead at 9:43 of the second on Watkins’ second goal of the evening. After gathering the puck on the left half wall of the Rampage zone, San Antonio center Kyle Turris skated along the left wall and over the Rampage blueline before sending a cross-ice pass to Watkins on the right boards. Watkins then raced into the Chicago zone and beat MacIntyre low.
Twenty-two seconds later, the right-handed Turris nabbed a clearing attempt by San Antonio defenseman Shaun Heshka near the Rampage blueline and skated in all alone on MacIntyre before deking the Wolves goaltender to the left and finishing high inside the right post to increase the San Antonio lead to 3-0.
Entering the final frame with a three-goal advantage, the Rampage were cognizant of the fact that no lead was safe against a Chicago club that entered Saturday having outscored opponents 88-47 in the third period this season.
However, thank in large part to exceptional goaltending from Tordjman and strong defensive zone play by the Rampage, San Antonio held Chicago off the scoreboard for the third consecutive period.
Tordjman stopped all 25 of the Chicago shots he faced for his 18th victory of the season, first shut out of the year and ninth shutout of his career. MacIntyre turned away 33 of 36 San Antonio shots for the loss.
The Rampage were 0-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the contest.
San Antonio will return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Cedar Park Center for a 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Texas Stars.