Justin Pogge made 43 saves and Stefan Meyer scored the game-winning goal as the San Antonio Rampage defeated the Peoria Rivermen, 2-1, in a heated contest on Saturday at Carver Arena.
With the victory, the Rampage swept the two-game series with the Rivermen and moved past Peoria and into sixth place in the West Division standings for the first time since November 20th.
San Antonio (23-20-3-6) entered Saturday’s contest two games above .500, representing the first time San Antonio has been two games above the even record mark since November 4 at Rockford.
A night after a total of 15 penalties were assessed to Peoria and San Antonio in Friday’s contest, referee Mark Lemelin whistled the two clubs for 15 infractions in the first period alone on Saturday.
Ironically, the only goal of the opening session was scored at even strength as Rivermen right wing Aaron Palushaj provided Peoria with a 1-0 lead at the 16:12 mark of the period. Gaining control of the puck in the left corner of the Rampage zone, Peoria center Yan Stastny found Palushaj behind the San Antonio net before the rookie wrapped a backhand shot around the right post for his fourth goal of the season.
The 22 Rivermen shots allowed by the Rampage in the first period were the most shots allowed by San Antonio in a single period thus far in 2009-10.
Less than an minute after Lemelin waved off an apparent San Antonio goal, red hot Rampage left wing Brett MacLean tied the game at one goal apiece with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season at 14:26 of the second. Controlling the puck in front of the Rampage net, San Antonio netminder Justin Pogge sent a pass to defenseman Sean Zimmerman on the left half wall. Upon receiving the puck, Zimmerman immediately sent a forwarding pass to MacLean near the Peoria blueline before the left-handed winger raced into the Rivermen zone and beat Peoria goaltender Ben Bishop through the five-hole on a backhand while being tripped by a Peoria defenseman.
MacLean’s goal was his third in the last two games and Pogge’s assist represented his third of the season. Pogge’s three assists rank him second among AHL goalies behind Bishop and Providence Bruins netminder Danny Sabourin, who have four helpers apiece on the season.
San Antonio took a 2-1 lead at the 9:34 mark on left wing Stefan Meyer’s sixth goal of the season. Inducing a turnover in the Peoria zone, San Antonio rookie center Justin Bernhardt found Meyer in the left faceoff circle before the Rampage left wing beat Bishop between the pads to give Pogge a lead that the San Antonio netminder would sustain until the final buzzer sounded.
Pogge made 43 saves on 44 Peoria shots for his ninth victory of the season, while Bishop turned away 21 of 23 San Antonio shots in the loss.
San Antonio was 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill in the contest.
The Rampage return to action on Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee for a 4 p.m. CST matchup against the Admirals at the Bradley Center.