Photo Credit: Daryl Smith
Photo Credit: Daryl Smith
Comeback wins can be a rallying point for a team. The San Antonio Rampage had lost five games this season when trailing in the third period. That trend finally met its end-point.
Trailing by a goal in the final period, the Rampage (4-5-0-0) secured its first come-from-behind victory of the season by scoring three consecutive goals against the Charlotte Checkers (5-4-0-1) in a 5-3 win in front of 6,359 fans at the AT&T Center on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Rampage left wing Garrett Wilson led the team with two goals, including the game-winner in the third period. It was Wilson’s first multi-goal game in his AHL career.
“It feels good,” Wilson said. “It was a hard fought game; we had a big third period, scoring three goals, and it was a good win. We needed it.”
The Checkers had broken a 2-all tie in the second period on left wing Matt Marquardt’s first goal of the season. Checkers’ right wing Adam Brace placed a direct pass to a streaking Marquardt who knocked it in past Rampage goalie Michael Houser for a 3-2 lead.
Wanting to erase their record of late game losses in the third period, Rampage left wing Quinton Howden raced down the right boards and hit center Greg Rallo with a perfect pass through the circle that he shoveled through the legs of Checkers goalie Rick DiPietro to tie the game at three goals each.
The comeback was accomplished at the 10:53 mark of the third period when Rampage rookie Vincent Trocheck relayed a pass to Wilson who scored on a shot from the high slot, giving the Rampage their first lead of the game.
The Rampage topped it off at 13:18 in the third with their first short-handed goal of the season. Playing at a man disadvantage after a tripping penalty on Rampage center John Matsumoto, Howden took the puck from the Checkers at the defending zone blue line, raced down the boards past the last defender and beat DiPietro on his glove side to for a 5-3 lead.
The torrid shooting of the Rampage continued with a 21-8 shot advantage in the third period, and a 43-27 shot advantage total. Coming into the game the Rampage were ranked second in shots per game in the AHL.
“We had bursts of energy. We had bursts of good play. Transitionally I think we need to get better,” Rampage coach Peter Horachek said. “Momentum shifts are things that you have to manage. You’re down. You’re back up, you feel good. You get some great chances and then they come right down and score a goal. You have to stay even-keel.”
This is the first time this season the Rampage have had consecutive victories, and they need to collect more of them to gain ground in the West Division. The Rampage have eight points now with the win but trail first place by seven points.
“The key to us is realizing we have a good team and creating a winning environment. In past seasons it’s been a little rough around here. You can see it’s starting to turn the corner,” said Rallo, who was one of five Rampage players with multiple points in the game. “We’re starting to believe in each other. We’re starting to believe in our system. We’re starting to believe in everything and once that happens we can be a very dangerous team. It’s fun to be around and come to the rink every day.”
The Checkers were 0-for-4 on power-plays, and Houser, despite allowing three goals in the first two periods, stopped 24 of Charlotte’s 27 shots on goal. Houser is now 3-0-0 as a starter this season.
The first period was uncharacteristically high scoring for the Rampage as the two goals they scored were the most in the first 20 minutes of their first eight games.
Charlotte started the scoring quickly with a goal at the 2:08 mark of the first period. Checkers right wing Justin Shugg scored his second goal of the season on a cross pass from left wing Zach Boychuk past Houser. The goal came on the very first shot on goal of the game. Less than two minutes later, Wilson scored his first goal of the game on a rocket shot by teammate Jonathan Racine, who was credited with an assist along with Trocheck, to tie the game.
The Checkers didn’t wait long to retake the lead as center Victor Rask put a shot just past the right side of Houser’s stick to take the lead back for Charlotte at 2-1.
It was a Rampage power-play goal at 15:23 by right wing Joey Crabb that kept them in the game. Checkers defenseman Rasmus Rissanen was called for a two-minute boarding penalty, and Crabb capitalized by putting a goal past DiPietro with a bullet from the left circle, tying the game for a second time. It was the second-straight game Crabb has scored a goal.
The last three games have proven to be Wilson’s best with the Rampage. His two goals and four assists have only been matched by Trocheck who has three goals and four assists in that same span.
“Pete (Horachek) and Chuck (Weber) have given me a good opportunity this year,” Wilson said. “Anytime you play guys with Vincent Trocheck and Bobby Butler, they’re going to make it easy for you. They’re both great players and so far we have found a way to click. We have some chemistry right now and hopefully we can keep it up.”
The challenges continue for the Rampage with consecutive road games against the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and Wednesday, Nov. 6 in Abbotsford, British Columbia at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.