After racing out to a three-goal lead early in the first period, the San Antonio Rampage saw the Chicago Wolves score six unanswered goals and skate away with a 6-3 victory on Saturday at Allstate Arena.
San Antonio (32-29-4-6) entered Saturday’s game a mere three standings points behind the fourth-place Milwaukee Admirals for the fourth and final West Division playoff spot, but had to face Chicago netminder Peter Mannino, who entered the contest with 15 straight wins, and a Wolves team that had beaten the Rampage in each of the previous five meetings between the two clubs this season.
San Antonio raced out to an early 1-0 lead, at the 5:17 mark of the first, on right wing David Spina’s fifth goal of the season. Gaining possession of a loose puck on the right point of the Chicago zone, Rampage defenseman David Schlemko skated down to the top of the left faceoff circle before firing a shot off Mannino’s pads, with Spina waiting in front to deposit the rebound low inside the right post.
Exactly three minutes later, Rampage captain Jeff Hoggan increased the San Antonio lead to 2-0. Intercepting an attempted Wolves dump-in in the left faceoff circle of the Rampage zone, San Antonio defenseman Sean Sullivan banked a long pass off the left boards to Hoggan in the neutral zone. The left-handed Hoggan then sped into the left side of the Chicago zone before cutting through the slot and beating Mannino low to the glove side on a backhand.
Continuing the Rampage offensive assault, San Antonio center Joel Perrault notched his 14th goal of the season, on the power play at 9:49 of the first. Receiving a pass from Spina at the top of the left faceoff circle of the Wolves zone, Perrault then worked a give and go with Spina before beating Mannino low to the glove side from the bottom of the left circle.
Following Perrault’s goal, Chicago head coach Don Lever pulled Mannino and replaced him with netminder Drew MacIntyre.
With three minutes and 37 second remaining in the first, Wolves center Rylan Kaip nabbed a rebound off a shot by left wing Andrew Kozek near the bottom of the left faceoff circle and beat Tordjman high to the stick side to close the score to 3-1.
Continuing to build momentum, Chicago pulled to within a goal at the 10:37 mark of the second on a shorthanded goal by center Kevin Doell. Grabbing a rebound off a San Antonio shot on the left half wall of the San Antonio zone, Wolves right wing Joey Crabb raced down the length of the ice before firing a shot that was deflected behind the San Antonio net by Tordjman. Finding the rebound behind the net, Doell curled around the left post and beat Tordjman low to the stick side.
Chicago tied the game at 17:37 of the second on a goal by center Johnny Pohl. With the attention of the Rampage skaters on teammate Sean Zimmerman after he was checked into the San Antonio bench by Kozek, Krog raced down into the San Antonio zone and fed center Johnny Pohl for a one-timer on the right post to tie the game at three goals apiece.
Just 17 seconds into the third period, Crabb potted a rebound off a shot by defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy to provide Chicago with their first lead of the night.
At the 9:22 mark of the third, the Wolves increased their lead to 5-3 on Doell’s second goal of the contest. After receiving a pass from Chicago right wing Spencer Machacek at the bottom of the right faceoff circle in the Rampage zone, Doell fired a shot that deflected off the stick of a San Antonio defenseman and into the Rampage net.
Following the goal, San Antonio head coach Ray Edwards replaced Tordjman with goaltender Miika Wiikman.
With 54 seconds remaining in regulation, Krog added an empty-net goal to place an exclamation mark on a 6-3 Wolves victory.
Mannino and MacIntyre combined to make 31 saves on 34 San Antonio shots for the victory, while Tordjman and Wiikman combined to turn away 32 of 38 Chicago shots in the loss.
The Rampage were 1-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in the game.
The two clubs will reunite on Sunday afternoon for a 3 p.m. matchup at Allstate Arena.