Allowing six goals in a road game and six even-strength goals in a contest for the first time in 2009-10, the San Antonio Rampage succumbed to the Rockford IceHogs by a 6-5 score on Friday at the Rockford MetroCentre.
After striking first in the game, San Antonio allowed four first period goals and trailed for the remainder of the evening.
San Antonio (24-22-3-6) faced a Rockford club that entered Friday in a tie with the Texas Stars for second place in the West Division and a 7-3-0-0 record in their last 10 games.
The Rampage took an early 1-0 lead at the 2:52 mark of the first on left wing Stefan Meyer’s seventh goal of the season. Intercepting an attempted IceHogs breakout on the right point, San Antonio defenseman Jimmy Sharrow found Meyer at the top of the right faceoff circle, before the winger beat Rockford netminder Corey Crawford high to the glove side.
Sharrow’s assist was his first of the season and first with the Rampage after being signed to a Professional Tryout Offer (PTO) earlier in the day.
The IceHogs tied the game at the 7:37 mark on a goal by center Matt Keith. Preventing a San Antonio clearing attempt on the left point from leaving the Rampage zone, Rockford left wing Pete MacArthur sent a pass down to forward Evan Brophey in the left corner. Brophey then connected with Keith in the slot before the center deked San Antonio goaltender Justin Pogge and finished high inside the left post.
Rockford added to their lead at the 15:49 mark of the first when IceHogs right wing Jack Skille fired a shot from the right half wall that bounced off Pogge’s stick to Brennan in the slot, where the defenseman beat Pogge low to the stick side.
Twenty-six seconds later, Keith increased the IceHogs lead to 3-1 with his second goal of the contest. Beating two Rampage defensemen to a loose puck behind the San Antonio goal, MacArthur connected with Keith on the right post, where the center beat Pogge on a tight angle low to the glove side.
Continuing to pour on the pressure, Rockford defenseman Richard Petiot netted the IceHogs fourth goal with 1:47 remaining in the opening frame. Intercepting a cross-ice breakout attempt in near the left point, Petiot beat Pogge high to the glove side on a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Following Rockford’s four-goal outburst, Rampage head coach Ray Edwards pulled Pogge and replaced him in goal with netminder Josh Tordjman to start the second period.
Seeking to poke away at the Rockford lead, San Antonio closed the score to 4-2, at the 4:24 mark of the middle frame, on right wing Mikkel Boedker’s eighth goal of the season. Gaining possession of the puck at the bottom of the left faceoff circle of the IceHogs zone, Boedker skated to the top of the left circle and then along the top of the right faceoff circle before curling around the right faceoff dot and back into the slot, where he beat Crawford low to the glove side.
San Antonio defenseman Justin Kinnunen earned an assist on Boedker’s goal, representing his first with the Rampage after being signed to a PTO earlier on Friday.
One minute and 22 seconds later, Rampage center Kevin Porter brought San Antonio to within a goal with his 12th goal of the season. Receiving a pass from Boedker near center ice, Porter drove into the IceHogs zone before making a move through a Rockford defenseman’s stick and beating Crawford through the five-hole on a backhand.
With one minute and 11 seconds remaining in the second, IceHogs right wing Kyle Greentree extended the Rockford lead to 5-3. Intercepting another Rampage clearing attempt at the San Antonio blueline, Skille skated into the high slot before finding Greentree on the right faceoff dot, where the winger beat Tordjman low to the glove side on a one-timer.
Heading into the third period down by two goals, San Antonio moved to within one goal, at the 5:42 mark, on a power-play goal by center Kyle Turris. Following a pileup just outside Crawford’s crease, Turris found a loose puck on the right post and beat the Rockford netminder inside the right post to close the deficit to 5-4.
However, Rockford then increased their lead to 6-4 at the 17:49 mark of the final session on Keith’s third goal of the game. Ringing a shot off the crossbar behind Tordjman, referee Ghislain Hebert signaled a goal despite ardent protests by Rampage coaches and players that the puck never entered the net.
Rampage left wing Brett MacLean added a goal with 57 seconds remaining in the game to close the deficit to 6-5, but it proved to be not enough as Rockford held on to seal the victory.
Pogge made eight saves on 12 Rockford shots before being pulled for Tordjman, who turned away 16 of the 18 IceHogs shots he faced in relief of Pogge. Crawford stopped 29 of 34 San Antonio shots for the victory.
San Antonio was 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in the contest.
The Rampage and IceHogs will return to action on Saturday in a 7:05 p.m. matchup at the MetroCentre.