After having their previous four games decided by shootouts, the San Antonio Rampage took care of business in regulation on Saturday night, defeating the Lake Erie Monsters by a 5-3 score in front of a crowd of 9,564 at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.
San Antonio (20-19-3-5), playing the third game of their 14-game Rodeo road trip, faced a Monsters club that was 6-3-0-1 in their last 10 games. In addition, they faced a Lake Erie goaltender, Tyler Weiman, who entered the game undefeated in his previous five starts.
Lake Erie took an early 1-0 lead, on a goal by center Phil Dupuis, exactly two minutes into the contest. After receiving a pass from defenseman Kevin Montgomery in the neutral zone, Dupuis drove down the right side of the slot before beating Rampage netminder Justin Pogge low inside the left post.
The Rampage responded on the power play with left wing Brett MacLean’s team-leading 20th goal of the season at the 12:39 mark of the first. Following a San Antonio regroup in the neutral zone, defenseman Sean Sullivan carried the puck along the left boards into the left side of the Monsters zone before finding MacLean in the high slot. MacLean then carried the puck toward the left post before beating Weiman low to the stick side to tie the game at 1-1. The goal also marked MacLean's team leading 10th power-play tally of 2009-10 campaign.
San Antonio then took the lead four minutes and 17 seconds later on center Kyle Turris’ 10th goal of the season. Intently watching a rebound of a spin-around wrist shot from MacLean bounce off Weiman’s stick and into the air in front of the crease, Turris wacked the puck out of the air and into the upper left corner of the Lake Erie net to provide San Antonio with a 2-1 lead.
Following the first intermission, the Rampage picked up where they left off with an unassisted goal by 2010 AHL All-Star defenseman Sean Sullivan at the 1:18 mark of the second. After intercepting a Monsters clearing attempt on the left point of the Lake Erie zone, Sullivan quickly fired a low wrist shot past a surprised Weiman to increase the Rampage lead to 3-1.
However, for the second consecutive night the Rampage allowed a 3-1 lead to disappear as Lake Erie quickly responded with a power-play goal by left wing Tom Zanoski and an even-strength goal by right wing Matthew Ford, a minute and 40 seconds apart, to knot the game at three goals apiece.
Late in the second, right wing Chad Kolarik reclaimed the San Antonio lead, at the 16:49 mark of the period, with his 15th goal of the season and third goal in the last two nights. After receiving a pass from center Kevin Porter near the left faceoff dot in the Lake Erie zone, right wing Matt Watkins found Kolarik in the slot, who lifted a shot high to Weiman’s glove side to provide San Antonio with a 4-3 lead.
Exactly 34 seconds later, the Rampage added to their lead with a goal by left wing Stefan Meyer. Following a wrap-around attempt by center MacGregor Sharp on the left post, Meyer grabbed the rebound in the crease and beat a sprawling Weiman inside the right post to increase the San Antonio lead to 5-3.
In the final frame, Pogge denied Lake Erie on all 10 of their scoring chances in the period to seal the 5-3 Rampage victory.
Pogge made 26 saves on 29 Lake Erie shots to earn his seventh victory of the season, while Weiman turned away 23 of 28 San Antonio shots in the loss.
Turris recorded three points (1g,2a) to earn the first star of the game award on Saturday, marking the first time that the 20-year-old center has recorded three points in a game since October 18 against Grand Rapids.
San Antonio was 1-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill on the evening.
The Rampage will continue their Rodeo road trip on Wednesday, when they travel to Hamilton, Ontario to take on the Hamilton Bulldogs in a 6:30 CST matchup at Copps Coliseum.
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