CLICK HERE to listen to audio highlights.
A battle between the top two teams in the Western Conference ended with a 7-4 victory for the Peoria Rivermen as the San Antonio Rampage dropped their fourth consecutive decision Wednesday night at Carver Arena. The Rampage currently hold a 23-13-1-0 record good for 47 points.
Rampage center Andrew Ebbett registered an assist to extend his point streak to four games while Matt Watkins picked up two assists to extend his assist streak to three games.
San Antonio skaters Petr Prucha, Brett MacLean and Garrett Stafford recorded a multi-point night as they each tallied one goal and one assist in the contest.
The Rampage opened the scoring at the 16:06 mark on Prucha’s power-play goal for a 1-0 lead. Prucha skated from the left boards to the slot where he blasted a snapshot that bounced off the blocker of Rivermen goaltender Jake Allen and into the back of the net. MacLean and Stafford provided the assists on Prucha’s eighth goal of the season.
Just 57 seconds later, the Rampage extended their lead to 2-0 on a Bracken Kearns rebound goal that was assisted by Watkins and Ryan Hollweg.
Peoria responded with a power-play goal during the closing 20 seconds of the opening frame when Nathan Osytrick’s shot from the high slot beat Rampage netminder Al Montoya five-hole to cut the San Antonio lead to 2-1.
The Rivermen netted the equalizer at the 4:45 mark of the second period as T. J. Hensick sent a centering feed to Nesbitt who shot the puck high stick side of Montoya for his first of four goals on the night.
San Antonio claimed a 3-2 advantage as leading scorer Brett MacLean recorded his 15th goal of the season at the 10:33 mark of the middle stanza. Ebbett sent a pass to Mikkel Boedker from behind the net, who in turn passed across the slot to MacLean giving him an open net to shoot at as Allen was unable to recover to the far post in enough time to reach the puck.
The Rampage pushed their lead to 4-2 after Stafford’s long shot from the right point beat Allen high glove side 12:09 into the second period. Prucha and Watkins supplied the assists.
Peoria tied the game at 4-4 after Nesbitt rounded out his hat trick with two goals scored 2:14 apart starting at the 10:33 mark of the middle frame. Nesbitt’s second goal of the night came from the left faceoff circle and passed Montoya to the low glove side. Shortly after, his third goal came on the power play as he snapped a shot from the slot that went behind Montoya and into the back of the net. Hensick and Graham Mink added the helpers on both goals.
The Rivermen gained their first lead of the game at 5-4 after a San Antonio turnover in the neutral zone resulted in a breakaway down the right boards by right wing Tyler Shattock where he fired a shot that went over Montoya’s glove 6:14 into the third period.
Peoria extended their lead to 6-4 on Nesbitt’s fourth goal of the night at the 14:54 mark of the last period. Nesbitt, who was stationed above the crease, redirected Oystrick’s shot to the high stick side of Montoya during the power play.
San Antonio head coach Ray Edwards pulled Montoya in favor of a sixth attacker with 3:25 remaining in the contest, however, Peoria left wing Stefan Della Rovere scored a shorthanded goal on the empty net to secure the Rivermen victory at 7-4.
Montoya recorded 30 saves on 36 Rivermen shot attempts while Allen stopped 24 of 28 Rampage shots.
The Rampage kick off a three-in-three series on Friday night as they return to the AT&T Center to host the Texas Stars at 7 p.m. They begin a home-and-home series against the Houston Aeros on Saturday with a 7 p.m. puck drop at the AT&T Center and travel to Houston on Sunday for a 4:05 p.m. face off at the Toyota Center.