After giving up a 5-1 lead, David Spina scored in overtime to complete his second hat trick in a Rampage uniform and lift San Antonio past the visiting Peoria Rivermen, 6-5, on Tuesday at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio (30-27-3-6) entered Tuesday’s contest tied with Peoria for sixth place in the West Division with 67 points apiece.
The matchup featured two teams in the AHL’s top 10 on the power play and ultimately, power-play goals proved to shape Tuesday’s contest significantly.
Taking advantage of an early Peoria penalty, Rampage defenseman Shaun Heshka opened the scoring with a power-play tally at the 3:38 mark of the first. After receiving a pass from Heshka near the right half wall of the Peoria zone, left wing Brett MacLean fed a pass to blueliner David Schlemko in the high slot, where Schlemko fired a slap shot off Peoria netminder Ben Bishop’s stick to Heshka on the right post. The pinching defenseman then deposited the rebound to give San Antonio a 1-0 lead and counted as Heshka’s fourth goal of the season.
Peoria evened the score at 1-1 on a goal by center Lars Eller at the 18:42 mark of the first. Entering the left side of the Rampage zone with speed, Peoria right wing Pascal Pelletier skated down to the left half wall before dropping a pass to Eller at the top of the left faceoff circle, where the rookie centerman one-timed a slap shot off the inside of the right post.
With 48 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Rampage right wing Mikkel Boedker received a feed from right wing Joel Perrault on the right boards in the neutral zone and carried the puck down to the right faceoff dot in Peoria territory. Following the play toward the net, right wing David Spina reached the crease in time to knock the loose puck into the Rivermen net to provide San Antonio with a 2-1 lead.
Early the in the second, Spina added to the San Antonio lead, on the power play, with his second goal of the contest. Working on the man advantage, Tordjman sent a pass from his own crease to Schlemko, who sent a cross-ice pass to Spina on the right boards just outside the Peoria blueline. Spina then broke into the Rivermen zone with speed before firing a shot from the right faceoff dot and beating Bishop high to the stick side to increase the Rampage lead to 3-1.
Less than two minutes later, San Antonio took a 4-1 lead on left wing Alexandre Picard’s 20th goal of the season. Finding the puck behind the Peoria net, the left winger muscled his way around the right post and beat Bishop low to the stick side.
Following the goal, Peoria head coach Rick Wamsley replaced Bishop with goaltender Joe Fallon.
Refusing to relent, San Antonio increased their lead to 5-1 at the 10:42 mark of the middle frame when rookie center MacGregor Sharp caught a rebound off a shot by Stefan Meyer and beat Fallon high inside the left post.
However Peoria then stormed back, on the power play when right wing center Brett Sonne found the puck behind the Rampage net and fed Pelletier on the right post at the 18:10 mark of the second.
With 52 seconds remaining in the second frame, Rivermen right wing Barry Tallackson closed the deficit to 5-3 when he carried a loose puck from the left corner of the San Antonio zone to the high slot and beat Tordjman high inside the left post.
Peoria continued to pour on the pressure five minutes and 50 seconds into the third, on the power play, when defenseman Jonas Junland beat Tordjman with a blistering slap shot from the high slot.
To the astonishment of the 2,871 in attendance, Peoria center Julian Talbot then tied the contest at five goals apiece, at the 12:45 mark of the third, on the power play, when he deposited a rebound on the right post.
Neither team scored in the final 7:15 of play, thus sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, fate proved to be on San Antonio’s side as Spina notched his third goal of the game just 1:21 into the extra session to send the AT&T Center into a frenzy. Driving into the left side of the Peoria zone with speed, Perrault cut across the top of the left faceoff circle before connecting on a one-timer with Spina on the right post, where the right wing beat Fallon high to the glove side.
Spina’s hat trick represented the first three-goal game for a Rampage player since Spina tallied three goals on January 1, 2009, vs. Lake Erie at the AT&T Center.
Tordjman turned away 28 of 33 Peoria shots for his 14th victory of the season, while Bishop and Fallon combined to stop 42 of 48 Rampage shots in the loss.
San Antonio was 3-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill in the contest.
The Rampage return to action on Friday when they host the Texas Stars for a 7 p.m. Lone Star Faceoff matchup. Friday is the final KISS Rocks $1 Drink Night of the season and the band Free Reign, featuring three members of the Dallas Cowboys, will perform immediately following the game on the Bud Light Courtyard.