In their first trip to the Bradley Center of the 2009-10 campaign, the Rampage fell to the Milwaukee Admirals by a 4-2 score on Friday night.
The previous meeting between the two clubs saw San Antonio defeat Milwaukee, 5-1, on November 28 at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City. On Friday, the Admirals avenged the aforementioned loss by stifling the Rampage with three goals in the first period and another at the beginning of the third.
San Antonio pounced on Milwaukee early in the contest, inundating Admirals goaltender Mark Dekanich with a flurry of shots and a relentless attack in the opening minutes of the game. The aggressive play paid immediate dividends for the Rampage as San Antonio opened the scoring at the 7:23 mark on a goal by rookie center MacGregor Sharp, who was playing in his second game with the Rampage after being promoted to San Antonio on Wednesday from the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Carrying the puck into the Milwaukee zone, San Antonio rookie forward Andrew Orpik sent a pass to Rampage left wing Ryan Hollweg on the left half wall. Hollweg then carried the puck to the bottom of the left faceoff circle before sending a pass across the crease with Sharp waiting on the right post to tap the puck into the net.
However, Milwaukee quickly turned the tide on the Rampage with a goal of their own, two minutes and twenty-four seconds later, from the stick of center Mike Santorelli. Working on the power play in the San Antonio zone, center Cal O’Reilly, who was returned to the Admirals earlier in the day from the NHL’s Nashville Predators, carried the puck down to the right side of the slot before sending the puck to Santorelli on the left faceoff circle. Santorelli then fired a shot over the left shoulder of Rampage netminder Justin Pogge to tie the game at one goal apiece. Santorelli’s tally was Milwaukee’s second power-play goal in their last 41 power-play opportunities.
A minute and thirty-two seconds later, the Admirals added to their lead on a goal by left wing Peter Olvecky. Controlling the puck on the left point, Milwaukee defenseman Andreas Thuresson fired a slap shot from the left point towards the right post where Olvecky was waiting to one-time the puck past Pogge and provide the Admirals with a 2-1 lead.
Milwaukee increased their lead to 3-1 at the 16:16 mark of the first when Admirals right wing Chris Mueller found center Wacey Rabbit on the left post from behind the Rampage net and fired a shot that took an unusual bounce off Pogge’s skate and into the San Antonio net.
Following the opening stanza that saw the Rampage and Admirals combine for four goals, neither team scored in the second.
Early in the third, Milwaukee scored their fourth goal of the game on a goal by center Colin Wilson. After winning a faceoff in the left circle of the San Antonio zone, Wilson dropped the puck back to forward Nick Spaling at the top of the circle. Spaling then fired a shot that bounced off Pogge’s leg pads to Santorelli in the slot, who sent another shot on net that Pogge deflected to the left side of the crease. Wilson then picked up the rebound and beat Pogge low to the glove side to provide the Admirals with a three-goal lead at the 1:19 mark.
The Rampage closed the deficit to 4-2 with 1:42 remaining in the third on San Antonio right wing Matt Watkins’ first goal of his AHL career. Receiving a pass from Rampage defenseman Sean Sullivan at the bottom of the left circle in the Milwaukee zone, a pinching San Antonio defenseman Anders Eriksson found Watkins in the high slot before the rookie winger beat Dekanich to bring the Rampage to within two goals.
The Rampage, who scored power-play goals in six of their last seven contests, were held without a goal on the man-advantage in the game.
Admirals netminder Mark Dekanich made 24 saves on 26 shots for the victory, while San Antonio goaltender Justin Pogge turned away 31 of 35 Milwaukee shots in the loss.
The Rampage travel to Peoria for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Rivermen tomorrow night at the Civic Center.