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Rampage win three in a row, create a Thanksgiving miracle

It’s too early for a Christmas one.

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) – Jordan Kyrou assisted on both regulation goals and scored the game-winner in the shootout to lead the Rampage to their third-straight win, 3-2 over the visiting Rockford IceHogs Tuesday night at the AT&T Center. In the process of winning in the extra session, the Rampage sent the Hogs to their fourth straight game without a win (0-3-0-1).

A check of the scoreboard with 16:06 left in the first period made the win even more impressive as the Hogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Jordan Binnington improved to 5-1 over his last six starts to help lead the charge in net, leading to a “change” of his last name to “Winnington.”

“It felt like about halfway through the first period we came around,” said the former third round pick in 2011 who was jettisoned to Providence last season with the AHL Bruins. “It was just a matter of sticking with it. We’ve been having some success lately. We knew if we stuck with the gameplan, it would come around for us. It was an impressive comeback win for the boys and hopefully we can use this momentum into the weekend.”

The Rampage caught the Hogs at a good time, adding on to their four-game losing streak after Rockford began the campaign 8-4-1-2, scoring just a five goals in those four setbacks.

While Binnington found his game after the early challenges, the offense came to life, with Kyrou, the former second rounder from 2016 playing in only his 17th pro game, putting his stamp on the win.

“Since Jordan’s come down, I think he’s kind of struggled finding his game,” said Rampage head coach Drew Bannister. “But I thought (tonight’s game) was the expectation we’ve had for Jordan and certainly why he was up in St. Louis for as long as he was.”

Kyrou was the catalyst the Rampage needed in the first period after the horrible start, even though he managed to hit the post on an open net shot. “I’ve hit a lot of posts the last couple of games. I just have to keep digging in and it will come.”

That it did. Kyrou hustled down the puck and it ended up in the twine moments later on a screened shot by defenseman Jakub Jerabek on the power play to make it a 2-1 game at 18:11.

“The biggest thing for us is just compete,” said Kyrou, who started the season with nine games in a Blues uniform before being sent south on Oct. 30. “Once you get every guy to do that, everyone put the work in, start playing hard, competing, winning battles on the wall, getting pucks in, it starts to go your way. We just got to keep that up.”

That kind of effort showed up on the scoreboard again at 8:52 of the second period, when defenseman Mitch Reinke stopped the IceHogs advance along the right wing wall at the redline, floated a pass up ice to Kyrou who zipped the puck across the slot where Charlie Sampair one-timed the puck past Rockford goalie Collin Delia.

“I was really happy for him to be able to get that goal,” said Bannister of Sampair’s first AHL goal although the undrafted pro out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth scored 31 goals in Tulsa (ECHL) last year. “Certainly he played well, considering he’s had very little time where he’s played with us.”

The Rampage, 1-4 when tied after two periods, pressed the advantage late in the third period, with Ryan Olsen denied with 4:30 left in regulation on a deflection attempt after Jordan Nolan tracked down a puck at the mid-board and sent a pass across the slot.

Klim Kostin then stole the puck behind the net with 90 seconds left, passed it to Mackenzie MacEachern who then found Adam Musil for a glorious backhand chance that Delia turned aside and a minute later, Kostin again corralled a loose puck in the zone, outskated two Hogs, sent the puck over to Musil whose shot went over the net off the shaft of his stick to send the game into overtime.

The Rampage had amazing chances in the OT, their first chance in extra time this season, only to be denied by Delia, outshooting the Hogs, 6-2, not including a post shot by Joey LaLeggia.

Justin Poganski scored coming in from his left and going over Delia’s shoulder to lead off the shootout, and Kyrou followed with what proved to be the gamer with a nice left-right move.

“I was just thinking about my move, what I was gonna do. I was gonna fake the backhand, go to the forehand and shoot it over the glove,” Kyrou said while he watched Poganski light the lamp.

Binnington kept up his part of the bargain at the other end after being faked out of his skates by Rockford’s Anthony Lewis, who had some degree of revenge after Binnington robbed him with the save of the night four minutes into the second period. Binnington was flat on his belly after a tough stop on a shot from the point, but managed to lift his glove as Lewis shot, snaring the disk about a foot off the ice. Even Lewis was impressed, tapping Binnington’s pad after the save. “It was mostly genetics -- the long arms that stuck out there that helped out the situation.”

He then waited out the Hogs’ leading scorer, Dylan Sikura for the big win as the shot sailed over the net.

“I knew he was a pretty skilled player,” explained Binnington. “Mindset was to be aggressive and it worked out. He went low blocker and got a piece of it so that’s it. Game over.”

The Rampage have improved to 6-12-0-0 after starting the season 3-12. The next three are against the Texas Stars this weekend, as San Antonio plays here Friday and Sunday sandwiched around a date Saturday night in Cedar Park, northwest of Austin.

“I know we’ve played poorly against Texas. Certainly they’re an outstanding team. We’re gonna have to be at the best of our game to be able to compete with them. I think it’s gonna be an exciting series. We have a couple days here to get ourselves ready, hopefully get a little bit healthier than we have been and get ready for those games,” said Bannister, who was missing Bobby MacIntyre and one of the team’s leading scorer, Brian Flynn, who played last season with the Stars, along with Sam Blais being recalled to St. Louis this week.