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) – St. Louis goaltending prospect Jordan Binnington has enjoyed an unusual 24 hours, going from fending off Pittsburgh’s Sid the Kid and Evgenyi Malken, to taking his game south to the American Hockey League and helping the San Antonio Rampage beat the Texas Stars, 4-2 in the Alamo City, stopping 37 shots in the process.
Binnington and rookie Evan Fitzpatrick exchanged places after St. Louis’ 6-1 setback to the Penguins Saturday night, where Binnington stopped 11 of 13 Pittsburgh shots in relief of Jake Allen. Fitzpatrick, the former second round Blues pick in 2016, assumes the bench position Monday night when the New York Rangers arrive at Enterprise Center.
Unless the Blues’ games head south quickly in the next week or so, Fitzpatrick has a snowball’s chance in San Antonio of seeing NHL game action with Allen “taking the snaps.” But you have to be ready, for even situational circumstances, like Binnington travelling to San Antonio after being on the ice last night 1,000 miles north of here.
“I had a 10 a.m. flight, landed around noon, ordered some food,” said Binnington, who enjoyed an all-star season in Providence with the AHL Bruins last year. “The boys came to play, which was nice. And it was fun being back there and great to get the win.”
The Rampage have now won six straight and 10 of their last 11 home games with Sunday’s victory over Texas, who had gone 8-1-2 coming into the contest.
Ryan Olsen scored off a Texas defender to get the Rampage (15-17-1) on the board at 9:02, while Austin Poganski scored his second goal in two games with just 20 seconds left in the first period when he slipped a rebound under Texas goaltender Phillippe Desrosiers. After Poganski’s fifth goal of the year, the rookie skater out the University of North Dakota barely lifted an eyebrow, let alone his stick.
“People have said that before,” said the former 2014 fourth round pick. “But I act like I’ve done it before and move on.”
Mackenzie MacEachern assisted on both goals, with Tyler Wotherspoon and Mitch Reinke also picking up helpers.
After the Stars cut the lead in half, Zach Sanford and Connor Bleackley scored 33 seconds apart later in the second period. Sanford, just back from St. Louis, went in with Samuel Blais on a two-on-one with Blais pulling Derosiers out of the crease with a fake slapshot and fed Sanford for the empty net goal at 14:23. Jordan Kyrou also assisted, giving him 11 straight games with points – just one off the team record held by Yanick Lehoux in 2006, when the Rampage were under the wing of the Phoenix Coyotes.
On the next rush up ice, Bleackley caught up to a Rampage passout by Wotherspoon, cut to the net and put a backhander in off a Texas stick for a 4-1 lead.
The Stars outshot the Rampage, 39-30, including 19-8 in the second period. Rampage head coach, Drew Bannister liked how his team started the game and overcame some down times to get the win.
“I thought the first period we were real good. We played with urgency. Offensively we did a lot of good things. I thought we were a little lackadaisical in the second. They jumped on us, but I thought we settled in later on in the second. They did put a lot of pucks to the net. In the third, we expected a push from them. They scored on that power play, I thought we settled in nice, didn’t give them a lot after that. We had some quality chances, but overall happy with the game.”
On the goaltending situation, which has Binnington here, Fitzpatrick up there and Ville Husso injured, Bannister said, “It just gives guys opportunities. Fitzpatrick came in, played very well (Friday night), he goes up and gets an opportunity to get an idea of what it’s like being in the NHL. It gets Jordan back down here to get some quality games in. With Husso out the length of time, it’s important for Jordan to get some games in and you’ll see what happens after that. It’s nice that we have goalies, depth in our system, we can bring guys in.”