Game Preview: Hog Tied
After a grinding 2-1 win on Saturday night over the Rockford IceHogs at the AT&T Center, the Rampage have back-to-back wins for the first time this season and moved within a game of the .500 mark on home ice. On Tuesday night the Rampage will host the IceHogs again as they continue their trek back up the Central Division standings.
The Rampage have won three of their last four games at the AT&T Center, while the IceHogs have lost three games in a row to fall to 8-7-3 on the season, currently holding the last playoff spot in the Central.
Austin Poganski and Adam Musil both scored for San Antonio, with Musil’s goal breaking a 1-1 tie midway through the third period. Musil has tallied all three of his goals this season on home ice, as well as his lone assist, his game-winner snapping a six-game points drought.
Jordan Nolan earned an assist on Poganski’s goal with a deflection in front, extending his points streak to a team-high four games. Nolan has three goals and six points in his last four outings, red hot after a quiet start to the season.
San Antonio’s offensive-minded blue-liners are also starting to produce on a more regular basis. With an assist on Saturday, Mitch Reinke has helpers in three straight games and six in his last eight contests. Joey LaLeggia has a goal and seven points in his last ten outings.
Jordan Binnington has been stout between the pipes for the Rampage, earning his fourth win of the season against Rockford. Binnington has won four of his last five starts and has the league’s third-best goals-against average at 1.98.
The IceHogs were without several regulars on Tuesday night, including forwards Tyler Sikura and Matthew Highmore. The Rampage did a solid job of containing the top line of Jordan Schroeder, Victor Ejdsell, and Dylan Sikura, who combined for six shots and no points. Ejdsell had four shots on goal Saturday, and he was effective against the Rampage with a two-goal game on October 24th. Since then, however, Ejdsell has been relatively quiet with just one goal in 11 games.
Darren Raddysh is without a point during Rockford’s three-game slide but he remains one of the league’s most dangerous defensemen. His 12 points are tied for tenth among all ECHL blue-liners.
Derek King is the interim head coach of the IceHogs. A 14-year veteran of the NHL, King played 830 NHL games with the Islanders, Whalers, Maple Leafs, and Blues. He’s served as an assistant in the AHL for eight of the last nine seasons with Grand Rapids, Toronto, and Rockford, but he is now a head coach for the first time after Joel Quennville’s firing with the Chicago Blackhawks led prior Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton to the NHL job.
Rampage to Watch
Austin Poganski scored his first goal of the season on Saturday, a power play goal, and has been getting more opportunities in offensive situations from Head Coach Drew Bannister. After a brief stint in ECHL Tulsa, in which he tallied two goals and three points in three games, Poganski has returned to San Antonio with more energy and more confidence. In a recent article in The Athletic, Bannister said, “Austin Pognaski started a little bit slow with us, we sent him down to the ECHL to get his confidence back, and he’s come back and played with urgency in his game. He’s probably been one of our better forwards the last three games.”
IceHog to Watch
Dylan Sikura is enjoying the transition to professional hockey. A rookie, and a sixth-round Blackhawks draft pick in 2014, Sikura leads the IceHogs in scoring with 13 points. SIkura was a teammate and linemate of Rampage forward Nolan Stevens last season at Northeastern University, where Sikura ranked third in the nation with 54 points. He has three goals and six points in his last nine games.
- Saturday’s win over Rockford snapped a four-game losing streak for San Antonio against the IceHogs.
- The Rampage power play has scored goals in three straight games and in four of the last six. During the last six games, the Rampage power play is 6-for-24 (25 percent).
- Rockford has a minus-7 goal differential in first periods this season, and they’ve been outscored 8-0 in third periods over their last four games.
- Forward Charlie Sampair was recalled from ECHL Tulsa on Monday. Sampair had an assist in two games with San Antonio last year, and he led Tulsa in both goals and points in 2017-18.
- Prior to Saturday, Adam Musil had one goal in his prior 13 games.
- In Jordan Binnington’s last five starts, he is 4-1-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage.
- Rockford goaltender Kevin Lankinen made his third start of the season Saturday, and his first since October 19th.
- Trevor Smith is seven points shy of 500 for his pro career.