We have an on-site correspondent with the Rampage now, but he’s having issues logging in. When he’s able to log-in, these home recaps will switch over to being published by Tony, not me.
— by Tony Uminski
San Antonio) – Goals came in clumps Tuesday night at the AT&T Center as the Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) beat the Rampage, 4-3.
The Rampage started slow, gained some mid-game momentum, then fell asleep again as the up and down contest had goals scored in two or three minute intervals at different parts of the game.
Just 3:53 into the game, Milwaukee’s Anthony Richard picked up a loose puck on the right wing boards, zipped up the ice and whipped in an unassisted goal on the breakaway for a 1-0 Admirals lead.
The Rampage seemed to catch a break when the Admirals were called for a pair of penalties, only to have Milwaukee strike for a rare shorthanded goal while in a 5-on-3 disadvantage. Tyler Gaudet caught the Rampage asleep at the point, beat the defenseman down the ice on a breakaway, slipped the puck past San Antonio goaltender Ville Husso for a 2-0 lead just 2:02 apart.
The Rampage outshot Milwaukee, 12-4 in the period, and came out with their angry eyes on for the middle session, drawing even midway through the period.
Former second-round pick Zach Sanford’s backhanded lifter from the side of the crease pulled the Rampage to within one at 9:08. “Good backcheck by (Brian) Flynner, he stripped him, kinda sent it up to (Jordan) Noles there. He shot it off the backwall. I didn’t think it was going to get to me, but I ended up going down and got it off as quick as I could.”
The Rampage struck again just 2:12 later when 2017 first rounder Klim Kostin brought the weekday crowd to their feet with a “Nikita Kucherov slide the puck between the skates and slip a lazy one” move to score past Ads goalie Tom McCollum to knot the score. Connor Bleackley and Adam Musil got assists on that mesmerizing marker.
“We were kinda asleep to start the first period. They took advantage of it there,” said MacEachern. “We got lucky it was only 2-0. (Bannister) told us to wake up, play our game. That’s what we did. We got pucks deep, went to work and it paid off.”
But the Admirals got out of the gate quickly for the third period as former Rampage winger Rocco Grimaldi flew down the left wing, cut toward the slot on a partial break and buried the puck past Husso just 13 seconds into the third.
Milwaukee went back up two 1:11 later as Emil Pettersson practically copied Grimaldi’s move unassisted for a 4-2 edge.
But, the Rampage weren’t done. Mackenzie MacEachern responded with a hard-fought battle-goal 25 seconds later to cut the lead to 4-3 at 1:49.
“Got to the front of the net, don’t know who shot it, but they made a nice shot. I think I got a re-direction and put it home. Felt nice to get one—the first one with the Rampage.”
With a 12-7 third period shot advantage, the Rampage also out-chanced the Admirals all the way down to the final buzzer, but were denied the equalizer. MacEachern just missed with a one-timer with seven minutes left as McCollum, the former Red Wings prospect, slid over to make the save.
The Rampage had the edge in shots, 34-24, but a few defensive breakdowns cost them the game. Friday and Saturday, many familiar faces will return to San Antonio, as the new Colorado Avalanche affiliate, the Colorado Eagles out of Loveland, Colorado, make their only appearance at the AT&T Center this season.
FOOTNOTES: “It was really different last year. Playing with them my first year, and then my second year was kinda weird,” said MacEachern about last year’s situation, where the Blues prospects were split with Chicago and San Antonio. At times when the Wolves and Rampage played their four games, Blues farmhands faced off against each other in different uniforms. “At camp this year it felt like I hadn’t seen the guys forever. Definitely good to get everyone together, get some good chemistry together.
“We going to be a hard-working team, pretty heavy upfront. Be hard on the forecheck down low. Our defense are all pretty skilled. I think as we get the season going, we’ll mesh together. Obviously we have great goaltending with Ville and (Jordan) Billington.”
On being aggressive on the puck this year. Sanford said, “I’m still a young guy, but even the guys younger than me, their out there battling, winning their battles, taking the puck to the net. I think that’s good for myself and even the older guys to see. One guys doing it we all gotta be doing it.”
On the game tonight: “It was spotty. Second period we were really good. Strong defensively. We weren’t turning pucks over as much, and then a couple tough breaks in the period there to start out. Next thing you know we’re down two, battling back again. It’s not easy playing like that.”