Heading to the All-Star break on a positive note, the San Antonio Rampage defeated the visiting Toronto Marlies, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center.
The Rampage, who held a 6-0-0-2 all-time record against Toronto before Sunday’s game, faced a Marlies club that was playing its third game in as many days and entered Sunday’s contest winless (0-4-2-0) in their first six games of an eight-game road trip.
Showing few signs of fatigue early on, the Marlies opened the scoring at the 6:37 mark of the first when right wing Ashton Rome knocked in a rebound of a wrap-around shot by Toronto forward Richard Greenop to provide the Marlies with an early 1-0 lead.
Toronto, who entered Sunday as the second-most penalized team in the AHL, averaging 24.88 penalty minutes per game in 2009-10, allowed the Rampage to tie the game on the power play at the 14:35 mark of the first when Rampage left wing Ryan Hollweg tipped a shot by center MacGregor Sharp under the glove of Toronto goalie Andrew Engelage.
Hoping to break the 1-1 tie early in the second stanza, the Rampage took the lead at the 5:35 mark of the second on right wing Chad Kolarik’s 12th goal of the season. After Toronto defenseman Josh Engel lost an edge and fell down near the Rampage blueline, Kolarik stole the puck and raced down the right side of the ice on a three-on-one before firing a shot high off the right post and into the Marlies net to give the Rampage a 2-1 lead.
Continuing to pour on the pressure later in the middle frame, San Antonio defenseman Sean Zimmerman scored at the 17:05 mark of the period. After center Kevin Porter collided with a blue jersey when chasing a loose puck in the high slot of the Marlies zone, right wing Mikkel Boedker gained possession at the bottom of the left faceoff circle before finding a trailing Zimmerman on the right post to increase the lead to 3-1.
At the 16:07 mark of the third, Toronto closed the deficit to 3-2 when Marlies right wing Greg Scott split the San Antonio defense at the Rampage blueline and beat Pogge through the five-hole.
Refusing to allow Toronto back into the game, thirty-five seconds later, Rampage all-star defenseman Sean Sullivan received a pass from Pogge deep in the San Antonio zone and skated coast-to-coast before beating Engelage between the five-hole to increase the Rampage lead to 4-2. Pogge’s assist represented his second helper of the season.
San Antonio then capped off their afternoon when Boedker scored on an empty Toronto net on a pass from center Gavin Morgan with 45 seconds remaining to seal the 5-2 victory.
Pogge, who went 71-56-11 for Toronto between 2006-09 before being traded to Anaheim in August, stopped 29 of 31 Toronto shots to defeat his former club and earn his fifth victory of the season. Engelage made 39 saves on 43 San Antonio shots for the loss.
The Rampage will return to action on Saturday, when they welcome the Milwaukee Admirals to the AT&T Center at 7 p.m. for their sixth annual Salute to the Badges Night.
Catch Rampage defenseman Sean Sullivan and the other AHL All-Stars compete in the 2010 AHL All-Star festivities in Portland, Maine which will air on FOX Sports Southwest on Monday (Skills Challenge - 7 p.m. CDT) and Tuesday (All-Star Game - 5 p.m. CDT).