SAN ANTONIO (December 18, 2009) -- Returning home to the Alamo City following a four-game road trip, the Rampage defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins, 4-2, on Friday night in front of an energetic crowd of 5,227 at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio hosted a Griffins team that not only entered the game near the top of the AHL rankings in both goals scored and power play percentage, but also defeated the Rampage by the same score on December 9 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The opening period saw referee Jeff Smith, who whistled two total penalties in San Antonio’s game in Houston on Wednesday, allow the two speed-oriented clubs to skate with minimal stoppages and refrain from assessing a single penalty.
Taking advantage of the wide-open play, Grand Rapids opened the scoring at the 15:07 mark of the first period on a goal by right wing Justin Williams. After intercepting an attempted San Antonio clearing pass at the top of the right faceoff circle, Williams took two strides toward the Rampage goal before beating Tordjman high to the glove side on a wrist shot. Griffins right wing Michael Nylander and forward Francis Pare were credited with assists on Williams' marker.
Early in the second, Griffins defenseman Logan Pyett was whistled for hooking, thus providing the Rampage with their first power play of the contest. The Rampage, who had converted on a respectable 19.4% of their man-advantages in their last nine games before tonight, received a power-play goal by rookie center Colin Long at the 14:46 mark of the second to tie the game at one goal apiece. After winning a faceoff to San Antonio winger Stefan Meyer on the right half wall of the Griffins zone, Meyer sent a pass back to defenseman Sean Sullivan on the right point. Sullivan then fired a slap shot that was redirected in front of the crease by Long past Grand Rapids netminder Thomas McCollum and into the Griffins net.
Immediately following Long’s goal, more than a thousand teddy bears were propelled from the stands by fans in attendance in honor of “Teddy Bear Toss Night.” The bears were collected and will be donated to Toys for Tots.
San Antonio took the lead with 6:33 remaining in the period on center Kevin Porter’s 10th goal of the season. Entering the Grand Rapids zone with speed, Rampage left wing Jeff Hoggan dumped the puck into the left corner where right wing Mikkel Boedker gained possession. Boedker then spun and found Kevin Porter between the faceoff circles. After receiving the puck, Porter wasted little time before beating McCollum high to the glove side to provide San Antonio with a 2-1 lead.
However, the Rampage lead did not last for long as another San Antonio turnover paved the way for Williams’ second goal of the game. Reading the eyes of a Rampage defenseman, Williams intercepted an errant pass near the Griffins blueline and sped out to center ice on a breakaway before beating Tordjman low to the glove side at the 17:51 mark of the second to tie the game at 2-2. Grand Rapids defenseman Andy Delmore was awarded with an assist on William’s goal.
A minute and 23 seconds later, San Antonio added to their lead on a goal by rookie center Matt Watkins. Controlling the puck on the right point of the Grand Rapids zone, Rampage defenseman Shaun Heshka slid a pass across the blueline to fellow San Antonio defenseman Anders Eriksson on left point. Eriksson then fired a high snap shot that redirected off Watkins’ chest in front of the crease and into the Griffins net to allow San Antonio to maintain a lead heading into the second intermission.
Continuing to pour on the pressure in the final frame, San Antonio added to their lead at the 6:52 mark of the third on a goal by rookie center MacGregor Sharp. Gaining control of a rebound off a Stefan Meyer shot near the left post, Rampage right wing Chad Kolarik was blocked by McCollum in an attempt to reach around the left post and knock in the loose puck. However, Sharp was there to knock the rebound from Kolarik’s shot under McCollum’s outstretched arms and into the Grand Rapids net.
Rampage goaltender Josh Tordjman turned away 26 of 28 Grand Rapids shots for his fifth victory of the season, while McCollum stopped 23 of 27 San Antonio shots in the loss.
The contest tied Wednesday’s season-low for combined penalty minutes, with only one penalty assessed to each club by referee Jeff Smith on the night.
The Rampage look to build on tonight’s success as they head to the Rockford MetroCentre to take on the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.