(San Antonio) – The Rampage have recovered after a pre-Christmas disaster in Winnipeg with two overtime wins against the Texas Stars, including Friday’s 1-0 win behind the strength of Dominic Toninato and goaltender Ville Husso.
The Manitoba Moose humbled the Rampage north of the border with 7-2 and 3-1 wins a week ago, but Rocco Grimaldi scored the overtime game-winner, plus a remarkable end-to-end goal in regulation to lead the Herd to a 5-4 thriller over Texas Wednesday night.
Friday night, Grimaldi set up Toninato’s game-winner with a sendoff pass and then he acted as the decoy for Toninato to use before firing the puck between the pads of Stars goalie Mike McKenna 1:12 into the extra session. “We were in the D-zone and saw the turnover and took off, saw an opening,” said the Duluth, Minnesota skater. “Rocco got the puck, made a nice pass. I was looking for options and decided the shot was the best one and luckily put it in.”
The Rampage rookie has been incredible in the intrastate rival Stars, scoring four of his six goals this season on Texas nets. The Rampage are now 6-1 against the Stars, which is quite the turnaround on how the series was conducted during the early years of the rivalry, when Texas owned the Rampage, especially in Cedar Park, where San Antonio teams won only five of their first 23 games.
Ville Husso stoned the Stars’ 27 shots, including a full-bodied save at the beginning of the third period, where Texas outshot the Rampage 14-7 overall, but especially in the period’s first five minutes, where the shots were 9-1 Texas.
“In the last period they got some good chances,” the St. Louis Blues farmhand said. “It was my turn to set those back. It was actually a pretty good game for our team.”
Rampage head coach Eric Veilleux agreed. “The message was simple between the second and third period and it went something like this. ‘So far we’ve played, I would say, five periods the right way (against Texas). And we need to keep playing that way.’ We don’t need to force things. We don’t want to score before we have our chance. When you do that, you have a chance to turn pucks over and that’s not what we wanted to do.”
Conservative play has been working for the club this month, as the Rampage have posted a 7-4-1-0 record and improved to 18-12-2-0 on the season, good enough for fifth in the 15-team conference and 10-4-1-0 at home.
You have to go back nearly two years ago the last time the Rampage entered overtime 0-0. Reid Petryk scored at 3:12 of the OT on the San Jose Barracudas goaltender, and current Sharks backup Aaron Dell, who is an impressive 7-3-1 with a 1.93 GAA in his role behind Martin Jones on the big club. That win came on January 10, 2016, with Spencer Martin getting the shutout win with a 21-save effort.
The Rampage entertain the San Diego Gulls Sunday afternoon, with the Bakersfield Condors landing here Wednesday night before a three-game California jaunt to Stockton (leading the Pacific Division) and San Jose the first week of 2018.