For the second time this season, the San Antonio Rampage had a chance to sweep the Manitoba Moose in a two-game set and were unable to do so, falling by a 3-1 score on Saturday in front of a crowd of 8,252 at the AT&T Center.
The Rampage donned special camouflage jerseys for their 7th annual Military Appreciation Night in which both the Rampage jerseys and sled hockey jerseys were auctioned off after the game and generated more than $28,000 to be donated to Operation Comfort.
Less than 24 hours after shutting out the Moose, 4-0, on Friday, the Rampage knew that Manitoba would be both determined and looking for retribution on Saturday.
Fortunately, San Antonio (26-25-3-6) entered Saturday’s game with a bolstered roster thanks to a number of transactions by the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes late on Friday. Rampage leading scorer Brett MacLean was reassigned to the club, as well as franchise point leader Joel Perrault and 12-year NHL veteran defenseman Anders Eriksson.
Facing a Moose team that had not won consecutive games since February 12, the Rampage hoped to take an early lead on Saturday. San Antonio entered the contest with a 15-7-1-3 record when scoring before their opponents.
The Rampage received their wish as San Antonio center Kyle Turris opened the scoring at the 8:22 mark of the first. Maintaining control of the puck in the Manitoba zone, Eriksson found fellow blueliner Sasha Pokulok at the top of the left faceoff circle. Pokulok then fired a slap shot off the chest of Moose netminder DarenMachesney that rebounded to center Kyle Turris in the high slot. Turris then curled around traffic in front, toward the right post, before beating the Moose netminder between the five-hole to provide San Antonio with a 1-0 lead.
The second period featured back-and-forth action and a number of impressive saves by Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman as San Antonio maintained their lead heading to the third.
The Rampage relinquished their lead early in the third as Manitoba defenseman Nolan Baumgartner tallied a power-play goal just five minutes and 57 seconds into the period. Gaining possession of the puck on the left point of the San Antonio zone, Moose right wing Sergei Shirokov sent a pass to left wing Nikita Kashirsky in the left corner. Immediately upon receiving the puck, Kashirsky dished to a pinching Baumgartner just above the crease, where the blueliner fired a shot off Tordjman’s stick before knocking in his own rebound.
Manitoba added to their lead at the 11:51 mark of the third whenMoose left wing Matt Pettinger received a pass from right Shirokov in the neutral zone and raced down the left boards into the Rampage zone before beating Tordjman inside the right post from the left half wall.
With 17 seconds remaining in the game, Moose right wing Guillaume Desbiens found an empty San Antonio net to seal the Manitoba victory.
Tordjman made 30 saves on 32 Manitoba shots in the loss,while Machesney turned away 35 of 36 San Antonio shots for the victory.
San Antonio was 0-for-7 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill in the game.
The Rampage return to action on Sunday when they travel to suburban Austin to take on the Texas Stars in a 5 p.m. matchup at Cedar Park Center. The game will be televised live on FSN.