(San Antonio) – The Rampage dropped their fourth straight game in disappointing fashion in only their seventh home game of the season, a 5-3 decision to the Iowa Wild before 6,168 fans Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Rampage led 2-0 with a 35-10 shot advantage into the second period, when the Wild erupted for two goals within four minutes to grab momentum and eventually the lead.
Things looked good for the home team when they came out blazing with a 12-3 shot edge in the first five minutes of the contest, and it appeared San Antonio was on its way to snapping their West Coast induced losing skein when Alex Belzile scored on a breakaway at 7:43 of the first period.
Both defensemen Chris Bigras and Andrei Mironov, just dispatched to San Antonio from the Avalanche, set up the game’s first marker.
“Bigras gave it to Mironov who gave me a really nice pass. I was wide open for a breakaway and I shot it glove side and it went in,” explained the leading scorer in the ECHL playoffs last season with the Colorado Eagles. It was Belzile’s third of the season, and Mironov’s snap pass from his blue line transitioning the play back against the Wild was the key element in the play.
On a scale of good, best, better, the Rampage peaked at awesome in the second period when Tage Thompson picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in on the right wing with Mironov rushing the net on the left in a two-on-one and the Avs former fourth-rounder pushed the Thompson pass into a gaping net for a 2-0 bulge just 2:11 into the middle session.
The Rampage controlled the ice with determined offensive zone possession, shots flying from every direction, a 20-4 edge on first period shots when the roof caved in.
The Wild took advantage of the power play, scoring twice in the second period’s last nine minutes and momentum had completely shifted despite the tilted ice pointed toward the Iowa net.
“They had two goals on 12 shots,” lamented Rampage coach Eric Veilleux. “We caught a few penalties that they were able to capitalize on and their goalie was pretty good.”
The Rampage also missed out on some golden opportunities to put the game away, misfiring on a pair of five-on-three power play chances and going 0-4 for the game. They peppered Iowa goalie Steve Michalek, who improved to 5-1 on the season since his call-up from Rapid City of the ECHL, with a season-high 47 shots, but only a Julien Nantel goal at 11:07 of the third period broke the Wild scoring run of four straight markers after falling into that 2-0 hole.
“We did some good things. We need to re-do them tomorrow,” said Veilleux in his recap of the contest as the team plays Iowa again Saturday night. “We need to stay out of the box, obviously. We’ll rest and get ready to be dominant again tomorrow.”
This was a disappointing start to the highly anticipated extended homestand, where the Rampage began a stretch of eight straight games at the AT&T Center. San Antonio is now 4-3 at home this season, and this four-game slide has the Rampage down to 11-9-1-0 on the year in fourth place of the Pacific Division just ahead of the hard-charging Ontario Reign on a four-game winning streak.
The Rampage host Iowa on Saturday and Bakersfield on Tuesday before the Condors return from up the road in Cedar Park to meet San Antonio again Saturday night with Ontario here next Sunday afternoon. Cleveland is in on Thursday, Dec. 14, followed by a deuce vs. Rockford on Friday the 15th and Sunday the 17th to close out the run of home games before Christmas.