Weekend Preview: Wild Hogs
The San Antonio Rampage continue their homestand with another battle against the Iowa Wild on Friday night, followed by a visit from the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday. The Rampage opened the week with another win at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night, a 5-4 win in a back-and-forth affair with the Wild that was a record-setting victory for the Rampage.
With their eighth consecutive home victory, the Rampage established a franchise record for the longest home winning streak in team history. The Rampage last lost on home ice on November 25th, and they have won 12 of their last 13 games at the AT&T Center. Their 14 home wins lead the American Hockey League.
San Antonio’s five goals on Wednesday matched their highest offensive output for the season, powered by another two-goal effort from Mackenzie MacEachern. In seven games since returning from injury, MacEachern has five goals and eight points. He was recalled by the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
Ryan Olsen had his first three-point outing of the season, as did defenseman Mitch Reinke.
Jared Coreau made 20 saves to earn his first win with the Rampage, simultaneously grabbing the 100th win of his professional career. The Rampage have won all three meetings this season with the Wild, all at the AT&T Center, and they now sit nine points out of a playoff spot.
The loss for the Wild was their second straight defeat following a five-game winning streak. It was the fourth time this season the Wild had failed to win when scoring four goals in a game, and just their fourth regulation loss of the season in a game in which they scored the first goal.
Iowa came into the game with a streak of 25 consecutive penalty kills, but the Rampage scored on each of their first two power-play chances courtesy of Olsen and Joey LaLeggia. In their three meetings this season, the Rampage power play is 6-for-17 against the Wild.
The Iowa defense was active in the attack Wednesday, with blue-liners Carson Soucy and Brennan Menell finding the back of the net. Menell’s goal was his first of the season after registering 19 assists to start the year. Menell has 11 points in his last 11 games. Soucy scored twice and has points in each of the three games against the Rampage (2-2-4).
Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen has experienced feast or famine for Iowa. Kahkonen leads the league in shutouts with five and had recorded shutouts in two of his last three starts, giving up one goal in that time. He’s also surrendered five goals or more in a game on five occasions, including both of his starts against San Antonio.
The Rockford IceHogs now find themselves with company in the standings, sitting sixth in the Central with the Rampage two points behind them and with a game in hand. The IceHogs snapped a six-game winless streak (0-5-1) with a 6-2 victory over the Wild on Sunday, their highest scoring output in a game this season after scoring five goals combined during their winless skid.
Anthony Louis leads the IceHogs in scoring and posted three points against the Wild on Sunday. Jacob Nilsson netted a hat trick, his first in the AHL, giving him eight goals in his last 14 games. Defenseman Lucas Carlsson has four goals and six points in his last eight outings.
With goaltender Collin Delia still with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, Anton Forsberg and Kevin Lankinen have split the workload. Forsberg has dropped three straight decisions.
Rampage to Watch
Mitch Reinke continues to thrive on the back end for San Antonio, now with 23 points. Reinke is tied for the scoring lead among AHL rookie defensemen. Wednesday’s three-point outing was the first of his pro career and tied him for the team scoring lead. Reinke has two goals and five points during a three-game points streak and three goals and nine points in his last ten games.
Wild to Watch
Not many teams have managed to keep Justin Kloos off the scoresheet lately, but the Rampage have done it twice in three meetings this season after Kloos went pointless on Wednesday. The second-year Wild forward has points in 12 of his last 15 outings with eight goals and 20 points. That includes a three-goal, six-point performance against Stockton on December 21st, tied for the most points in a game by an AHL player this season.
IceHog to Watch
Dylan Sikura’s standout rookie season continues. Sikura had two assists on Sunday for Rockford, his first game back from an 11-game call-up with the Blackhawks that saw him notch three assists and also take part in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. Sikura has enjoyed playing the Rampage this season, scoring three goals in four games against San Antonio. That includes the overtime winner in Rockford on December 2nd, the last meeting between the teams.
- Mackenzie MacEachern has five goals in his last eight games. His previous high for a season was six goals.
- Against the Central Division’s top three teams – Iowa, Chicago, and Grand Rapids- the Rampage are 7-3-0.
- Ryan Olsen has two goals and six points in his last five games. With three points on Wednesday, he surpassed his AHL career-high for points in a season, which had been 13.
- Trevor Smith is three points shy of 500 for his pro career (NHL, AHL, ECHL, and Europe)
- Iowa Wild forward Cal O’Reilly is the brother of St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly. Both will be attending All-Star games for their respective leagues.
- The Rampage haven’t lost at home to a team other than the Texas Stars since the San Jose Barracuda on Oct. 26
- Iowa has gone to overtime 14 times, tied for the league-lead. Sam Anas and Gerry Fitzgerald are tied for the league-lead with three shootout goals each.
- Rockford is minus-17 in first periods, the worst mark in the AHL, and their 19 first-period goals are the fewest in the league.
- Rockford is last in the AHL with 2.26 goals per game.
- The IceHogs are 0-3-1 during a four-game road winless streak.