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San Antonio Rampage center Angelo Esposito scored in the 11th round of the shootout to give the Rampage a 4-3 win over the Houston Aeros Saturday Night at Toyota Center.
The Rampage took an early 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal by defenseman Mike Kostka 4:22 into the opening frame. Rampage right wing Bill Thomas received the puck from Mark Cullen and fired a shot that was deflected off the left leg pad of Aeros netminder Matt Hackett back to Thomas in the right circle. Thomas quickly passed off the puck to Kostka and with nine seconds remaining in the Houston power play, Kostka scored with a shot from the top of the right circle that went over the glove of Hackett.
The Aeros responded with a power-play goal by defenseman Jeff Penner at the 9:10 mark of the first period to knot the score at 1-1. Houston center Warren Peters received a pass from Chay Genoway in the right corner and fired the puck across the slot to Penner at the left faceoff dot. Penner then deposited the puck into the near side of the net over the right leg pad of Rampage goalie Brian Foster.
Houston center Casey Wellman gave the Aeros a 2-1 advantage with his fourth goal in three games at the 12:32 mark of the opening period. Aeros defenseman Jordan Hendry skated the puck into the left circle where he fired a shot that was redirected in the slot by Wellman into the right half of the net. Nate Prosser was credited with the additional assist on the Aeros second power-play goal of the game.
The Rampage returned to the ice in the second period with a strong push that led to Evgeny Dadonov recording his first Rampage goal just 3:15 into the middle stanza to even the score, 2-2. Dadonov skated the puck into the Aeros zone and swiftly travelled along the right wing boards, behind the net and wrapped the puck around the left post before Hackett could slide into place. San Antonio defenseman Roman Derlyuk picked up his first AHL point with the assist on fellow Russian-born teammate Dadonov’s goal.
Just 12 seconds later the Aeros reclaimed the lead when Justin Fontaine flicked the puck up just over Foster’s mask and landed inside the goal line to give Houston a 3-2 advantage. Aeros forwards Joel Broda and David McIntyre were credited with the assists on Fontaine’s first professional goal.
The Rampage evened the score with seven minutes remaining in regulation with a goal by Bracken Kearns, his third in as many games. San Antonio right wing Michal Repik assisted on the play with a pass from behind the net that found Kearns at the doorstep to punch it home and send the game to overtime and the eventual shootout.
After a scoreless overtime, the Aeros chose to go first in the shootout as Foster and Hackett each turned away the first eight shooters. Houston’s Carson McMillan scored to lead off the ninth round and put pressure on the Rampage. Mark Cullen was successful on his attempt as he swept the puck through Hackett’s five hole. The shootout continued to the 11th round, a Rampage franchise high, as Esposito deposited the puck over the head of Hackett to seal the victory for the Rampage.
Foster made 22 saves on 25 Aeros shots in his second consecutive start as Hackett stopped 23 of 26 Rampage shots.
The Rampage (2-1-0-0) travel to Austin on Thursday for a match up with rival Texas Stars at 7:30 p.m. at Cedar Park Center.