The beloved Rampage managed a split with Iowa this weekend and kept a hold on the 4th spot in the Pacific Division. Friday they blew a 2-0 lead after some impressive shot domination and Saturday was going poorly until late in the 2nd period when a rookie prospect helped turn the tide.
Iowa 5 – SAR 3
The boxscore tells a different story than what really happened on the ice. The Rampage absolutely dominated shots on goal 20-4 in the first period and 16-8 in the second, which looks fantastic until looking at the score.
The 1st period’s lopsided shot total came from the Wilds goalie fumbling the puck and allowing 2nd/3rd/4th chance shots to add up while at the other end Iowa absolutely couldn’t hit the net. Scoring chances were quite a bit closer and once Michalek settled down the Rampage only got 2 SOG in the final 6:23. That said, any time you can get 20 SOG in a period is nice and any time you only get one goal on 20 shots is tragic.
The 2nd period started out hot once again for San Antonio. Andrei Mironov scored less than 3 minutes in to make it 2-0 and the SOG piled up again with 10 in the first 6 minutes or so. After that they started to coast, an ineffective power play held them from furthering the lead and penalties led Iowa back into the game with 2 PPG of their own. 2-2 after 2, still very winnable.
The 3rd was a comedy of errors, penalties, turnovers, bad power play, slow play in general and generally everything that drives coaches crazy. This was a game they should have won easily and it slipped away.
Goals: Belzile, Mironov, Nantel
Shots: 47-25 (65%)
PP – 0/5, PK – 4/7
SAR 4 – Iowa 3 (OT)
As I wrote last week in the Rampage’s First Quarter Breakdown, when they win they only have to kill an average of 4.25 penalties per game and when they lose the number jumps to 6.71 per game. In the first period Saturday the Rampage took 3 minors and looked like they were well on their way to another loss. Iowa didn’t convert on any of them but they left P1 with a 2-1 lead nonetheless.
The 2nd period was going much the same way with another Iowa goal early and another 2 penalties to kill. As the period wound down the Rampage were losing 3-1, had committed 5 minors to the Wilds 1 and there wasn’t much hope. With just over 3 minutes remaining, rookie prospect J-C Beaudin scored his first AHL goal and that sparked some life into the team.
Thanks to some score effects the Rampage roared out in the 3rd period and started controlling play. After killing a dumb roughing call on Miro, the 6th successful PK of the night, Beaudin’s teammate in the QMJHL Julien Nantel tied the game up with a wicked snipe and eventually overtime beckoned. One minute in the Wilds took a penalty and Rocco Grimaldi finished the game off. This was a pretty rare occurance, winning while killing 6 penalties, and while we’d rather see some discipline nudge their times shorthanded down to palatable levels it’s nice to know that they can win these occasionally.
Goals: Schmaltz, Beaudin, Nantel, Grimaldi
Shots: 40-25 (62%)
PP – 1/3, PK 6/6
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Coming back for the win in game 2 might stand to be pretty important as far as this season is concerned. The Rampage had lost 4 in a row getting outscored 20-10 entering the match and up until Beaudin’s goal it looked like more of the same. We’ve seen losing streaks propagate until they become unmanageable before and it doesn’t take long until any chance of a successful season is gone. In the Pacific Division, Texas has passed the Rampage and Ontario is poised to do so following a grisly start to the season. Starting an 8-game homestand 0-2 isn’t the way to stay relevant.
Think what you like about the Avs young players from the QMJHL playing with the Eagles, now they’ve returned and contributed. Beaudin had his first 3 AHL points this weekend and Nantel scored a goal in both games. Shawn St-Amant only played on Friday due to an injury but the 3 of them together looked great. This is a viable scoring line with built-in chemistry – several years of chemistry when talking about Nantel/Beaudin – if Coach Veilleux chooses to use it and not defer to veteran experience instead. It’s probably never going to happen but putting AJ Greer with his old teammates when he returns could be a revelation. Those 3 have won a championship together and came within a goal of the Memorial Cup. This is the kind of line the Avs should have a great interest in seeing, not only from a development standpoint but from a scoring goals and winning games standpoint.
Next up the Rampage face Bakersfield Tuesday and again on Saturday with Ontario rolling in Sunday afternoon.