In the penultimate game of the 2009-10 season, San Antonio Rampage were perfect on the power play and defeated the visiting Rockford IceHogs, 4-2, in front of a raucous crowd of 8,250 at the AT&T Center.
Facing a Rockford club that entered Saturday making preparations for the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs and 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games, San Antonio (35-32-5-7) entered the contest with the American Hockey League’s top-ranked home power play percentage (25.3) and sought to finish one of the franchise’s best regular seasons with some positive momentum.
Neither team found the scoreboard in a swift opening period that saw San Antonio outshoot the IceHogs, 9-7, and featured back-and-forth play, limited whistles and zero penalties called by referee Ian Croft.
Rockford opened the scoring at the 4:05 mark of the second on a goal by defenseman Richard Petiot. After controlling the puck behind the San Antonio net, Rockford center David Gilbert then curled around the right post and fired a shot that rebounded off the pads of Rampage netminder Josh Tordjman to IceHogs left winger Brandon Bollig just outside of the crease. Bollig then dished a pass to a pinching Petiot on the left post, where the blueliner found the back of the Rampage net.
Eleven seconds later, San Antonio responded with rookie defenseman Chris Summers’ first professional goal. After receiving a pass from defenseman Sean Sullivan on the right boards in the neutral zone, right wing David Spina fed a pinching Summers inside the Rockford blueline before the blueliner skated down the slot and beat Rockford netminder Hannu Toivonen through the five-hole to tie the game at 1-1.
Spina’s assist represented the 200th professional point of his professional career.
San Antonio then took a 2-1 lead at 8:03 of the middle frame on right wing Frank Lessard’s second goal of the year. After gathering a loose puck from the skates of an IceHogs defenseman in the high slot, Lessard spun and fired a high wrist shot over Toivonen’s glove.
However, fifty seconds later, Bollig tied the game at two goals apiece. Beating a Rampage defenseman to a loose puck near the left post of the San Antonio net, Rockford center Jake Dowell sent a pass through the crease to Bollig in the slot where the winger beat Tordjman low to the glove side.
To perpetuate the second period scoring barrage, San Antonio reclaimed the lead at the 14:04 mark of the second, on the power play, on right wing Matt Watkins’ 12th goal of the season. Noticing defenseman David Schlemko wide open in the high slot, center Kyle Turris fed a pass to the blueliner before Schlemko fired a low wrist shot that was redirected inside the left post by Watkins.
Two minutes and eight seconds into the third, San Antonio picked up where they left off as Turris increased the Rampage lead to 4-2 with his 23rd goal and sixth power-play goal of the season. Receiving a pass from Schlemko near center ice, Turris skated over the Rockford blueline and beat Toivonen low to the glove side on a long wrist shot.
San Antonio’s power play, which entered the evening ranked first overall in the American Hockey League, continued to display its potency as the Rampage converted on both of their two man-advantage opportunities in the contest.
Tordjman made 35 saves on 37 Rockford shots for his 19th victory of the season, while Toivonen turned away 21 of 25 San Antonio shots in the loss.
The Rampage will complete the 2009-10 season on Sunday afternoon when they host the Houston Aeros for a 3 p.m. Fan Appreciation Day contest. The team will give away more than $72,000 in prizes and one lucky fan will walk away with a brand new bedroom set courtesy of Lacks Furniture. Doors to the arena open at 1 p.m. and all fans will receive a team-autographed photo, a free movie pass from Alamo Draft House (while supplies last), and can enjoy a free pregame skate.