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) – High flying Jordan Kyrou continued his red-hot play at the AHL level, leading the Rampage to a 4-3 shootout win over the visiting Iowa Wild (MN) Friday night.
Kyrou scored the game-winner in the shootout and assisted on all three Rampage regulation goals to extend his scoring streak to five games, sandwiched around his first NHL goal against Vancouver last week.
“You can’t have a bad attitude,” Kyrou said about being farmed out to San Antonio. “Wherever they put me I’m gonna go out there and play my game.”
Playing his game means setting up the first two Rampage goals within 29 seconds in the game’s first four minutes, and then setting up the tying goal after an Iowa comeback when the Wild took the lead in the third period.
“We had a great start there. We had a bunch of chances,” the former second-round pick said of the Rampage’s first period, where they outshot Iowa 18-3. “We let them fight back into the game. We made a big push there at the end.”
After the Wild’s Justin Klous scored with 5:43 left in the game, the Rampage, rather than lick their wounds about blowing the 2-0 lead, rushed up ice, with Kyrou setting up Nikita Soshnikov for his second goal of the game, from his knees in the slot to draw even 3-3 just 39 seconds later.
“I was gonna cut into the middle and the guy tripped me and I saw Soch back there and I just gave it to him,” said Kyrou, who’s first period pass from the corner helped the Russian skater score his first Rampage goal in nine games.
Kyrou also found Trevor Smith with another Rampage quick response just 29 seconds after Sochnikov’s goal, Smith going wrist shot over C.J. Motte, who’s rough start was a mirage as he kept the Wild in the game thanks to the Rampage barrage of shots.
“Some big momentum swings tonight,” said Smith, who played in only his second game after missing eight with an injury. “(Motte) played unbelievable…it could have been five or six after the first and kept them in it for sure. They started throwing pucks to the net, got a couple of lucky bounces to comeback. But the boys stayed resilient and got the two points.”
Those lucky bounces included a floater high above the ice that went behind Rampage goalie Ville Husso to tie the game early in the third, and then another pop-up puck that somehow found the back of the net for the lead.
In the overtime, both teams enjoyed two-minute power plays, thus less than a minute was actually three-on-three, and both clubs getting a couple of shots each.
After Austin Poganski beat Motte in the opening shootout round and Husso stopped Gerry Fitzgerald, Kyrou came through again for his second shootout goal of the season.
“I kind of slowed up a bit because I noticed how (Motte) comes out pretty far. So I kinda hestitated a bit and then did the same move,” said Kyrou about the shootout attempt that mirrored his shootout keeper from a couple weeks ago.
Smith likes what he sees in the young rookie, “He’s a great player. The way he moves the puck. They way he sees the ice. He’ll make a move and get out of danger. He’s quick with the puck. With the stick. It’s real nice playing with him.”
The Rampage have perhaps turned a corner in their season, going 8-3-1 since starting the season at 3-12-0 and more importantly, beating the top two teams in the division with their 2-1 overtime win last weekend against Milwaukee. “We’re trying to keep it simple,” said Smith, an AHL veteran of 525 AHL games, “The first 10 games we were all over the place. Wdoing the right things, keeping the pucks simple and making good plays where we need to make them.
Iowa dropped to 14-6-7 with the setback coming off a 6-3 hammering by the Texas Stars Wednesday night. Overall, the Rampage have a mystic touch against Wild teams, going 9-2-1 vs. Iowa in the AT&T Center the past five seasons and they meet again Sunday afternoon at 3.
Despite San Antonio’s lackluster 11-15-1 record, the Rampage are 8-1 when leading after two periods…all three Iowa goals were tainted. The first was a screened shot that Husso never saw from the blue line, and the other two were floaters that showed luck was on the Wild’s side as the puck just managed to cross the goal line both times. They sum up Husso’s season thus far as he improved to 3-11-0, as he kept the Rampage in the game while the offense took a siesta, being outshot 22-14 after the brilliant 18-3 edge in the first period.
Notes: The Rampage showed some quick thinking when the Wild was called for a delayed penalty with 20 seconds left in regulation. Rather than rush the goal 200 feet up ice, the Rampage played keep away with the puck to snag a full two-minute overtime power play, which didn’t result in a score, but a couple of nice chances were denied by Motte, playing in only his third AHL game this season…some fans were so unimpressed with the Rampage offense that the Wave made its return to a San Antonio hockey rink for the first time this century, or at least for the first time in recent memory…Soshnikov’s two goals and an assist came after a drought where he hadn’t scored since his Rampage debut on in Winnipeg on October 21st. He did have two assists on the recent road trip however.
Although playing much better over the past three weeks, the Rampage still have the AHL’s worst record at 11-15-1-0 for a .429 winning percentage, but the gap has closed considerably, as they trail the Anaheim Ducks affiliate in San Diego, the Gulls, by .06 percent…Take a look at the stat leaders. After 27 games – more than a quarter of the season done, and the leading scorers are two defensemen. Where are the forwards? Kyrou has played only 15 games and has taken over the burden up ice, but the rest of the team has been very quiet offensively and need to achieve some balance to become truly competitive. Only three Rampage players have double figure points after the game.
Contrast those stats with the visiting Wild with 11 players were in double figures with veteran Cal O’Reilly posting 5-18-23 for the season to lead the team.
Scoring: Mitch Reinke 1-13-14
Joey LaLeggia 3-10-13
Jordan Kyrou 5-8-13
Jordan Kyrou 5
Trevor Smith 5
Klim Kostin 4
Mitch Reinke 13
Joey LaLeggia 10
Jordan Kyrou 8
Tyler Wotherspoon 7
Klim Kostin 46
Niko Mikkola 23
Chris Thornton 22
Nikko Mikkola 8
Jordan Kyrou 8
Chris Thornton 3
Nikko Mikkola 27
Tyler Wotherspoon 26
With Jordan Binnington up in St. Louis, Ville Husso has the job to lose to Evan Fitzpatrick. Husso came into the season with high expectations, but has stumbled to a 3-11-1 record and 3.42 goals against. His sub-.900 save percentage (.882) also is indicative of some rough moments, but to be honest, he didn’t have much help when the team lost eight straight and 12 of 14 earlier this season.
On the positive side, since that horrific start, the Rampage have bounced back with an 8-3-1 mark, with Binnington bagging six of those eight wins.