AHL Central News: A New Leader of the Pack

We have a new team at the top of the American Hockey League’s Central Division with just over a month in the regular season. The top three teams will battle it out for home-ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs while the remaining five teams duke it out for the fourth seed.

Wolves Claw Their Way to the Top

The Chicago Wolves (33-18-5-1) won two of three games last week to take over the top spot in the Central with 72 points. They are no stranger to being in first place this late in the season as they are looking to win their third straight division crown.

The Wolves capped off their five-game homestand with a 1-0 win over the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday night. The win not only put them into first place, but it also marked just the second time in the franchise’s 25-year history where they have swept a homestand of at least five games.

The IceHogs controlled the first period of play as they held the Wolves to just a single shot on goal. However, Brook Macek broke the scoreless tie with his 23rd goal of the season six and a half minutes into the second period. Daniel Carr entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush and found Macek all alone at the near post for the easy conversion.

Daniel Carr, Chicago Wolves
Daniel Carr continues to drive Chicago’s offense. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

That was all the Wolves would need as Max Lagace took the reins and made 27 saves, including 12 in the third period for his first shutout since he was a member of the Texas Stars back in 2016.

“It was a huge win for our team,” head coach Rocky Thompson said with a smile on his face after the game. “And it was a huge feather in Max’s cap because he earned it and he deserved it.”

The Wolves then took to the road to close out their regular-season series with two games at the Stars. A pair of streaks stayed alive with Friday’s 2-1 overtime win; the team’s six-game winning streak and Carr’s 12-game point streak.

The Stars took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with a power-play goal. For much of the evening, it looked like that goal would be enough for the win, but Keegan Kolesar evened things up with two and half minutes left in regulation. Kolesar did what he does best by getting to the front of the net and cleaning up a rebound for his 12th goal of the season.

Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar
Keegan Kolesar is trying to grind his way back to Las Vegas. (John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)

The Wolves got a power play early in the overtime and Carr struck just over a minute in to win the game for the road team. Macek passed the puck from behind the net out to the left circle where Carr became the first player in the AHL to score 30 goals with a successful one-timer.

Saturday night’s rematch got off to a great start for the Wolves, but they could not make an early lead hold up in a 4-2 loss. For much of the season, the Wolves’ top two lines have done much of the heavy lifting, but Saturday they got some help from the bottom-six. The Wolves opened up a 2-0 lead on their first three shots of the game.

Tye McGinn broke the scoreless tie seven minutes into the game by getting a piece of Kevin Lough’s shot as it went by. It was McGinn’s first goal with the Wolves since being acquired from the Manitoba Moose back in November.

Less than two minutes later, Mathew Weis doubled the lead as his wraparound attempt hit off a Texas defender’s skate for just his second goal on the season. The Stars began their comeback with a power-play goal in the final minute of the first period. They went on to take a 3-2 lead with a pair of goals in the second period. They finished off the scoring just over five minutes into the third period. Carr was unable to find the scoresheet for the first time since Jan. 26, ending his 12-game point streak.

Player of the Week: The Wolves had a balanced offensive attack this week with nobody picking up more than a single goal or assist. Lagace is currently going through one of the best stretches of his professional career. He won both of his starts by giving up just one goal on 48 shots for a .979 save percentage (SV%).

Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace
Maxime Lagace has been on quite the roll since returning from Vegas. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

The Week Ahead: Friday, March 8 @ Milwaukee Admirals; Saturday, March 9 vs Iowa Wild; Sunday, March 10 vs Milwaukee Admirals

Wild Right in the Mix for Their First Division Crown

The Iowa Wild (30-17-7-5) had one of the busier weeks within the division with four games in California. They earned five out of a possible eight points and now find themselves tied for first place with 72 points. The Wolves hold the tiebreaker because they have three more wins than the Wild do.

The week-long trek through the Golden State began on Tuesday night with their third straight game against the San Jose Barracuda. The Wild saw their eight-game point streak come to an end in a 5-3 loss.

Mitch McLain gave the Wild a 1-0 lead late in the first period by taking advantage of a juicy rebound kicked into the slot and firing back over goaltender Josef Korenar. The Barracuda answered with a shorthanded goal, three minutes into the second period to tie up the game.

Cal O’Reilly put the Wild back on top, exactly two and half minutes later with his 10th goal of the season; a snap shot from the slot. Iowa held their 2-1 advantage into the second intermission before things got crazy in the third period.

The Barracuda tied the game just a minute and a half into the third period and when the dust settled less than 10 minutes later, they had a 5-2 lead. Gerry Mayhew scored his 19th goal of the season to cut the lead to 5-3, but it was too late for the Wild to make a serious comeback.

On Friday morning, the Minnesota Wild announced that they had recalled veteran forward Matt Read. Iowa also signed forward Riley Bourbonnais to a Professional Tryout Agreement (PTO). He has 45 goals and 85 points in 119 career ECHL games.

Matt Read returned to the NHL last week. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Later that night, the Wild ended the Bakersfield Condors’ record-setting 17-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory. Andrew Hammond stopped all 30 shots he faced in his first game action since Feb. 2.

Dmitry Sokolov converted on the Wild’s third power play of the night, just past the midway point of the first period, to score the lone tally in the game. Sokolov found the back of the net by firing a one-timer from the right circle off a feed by Gerry Fitzgerald.

The Wild killed off five penalties, including a lengthy 5-on-3 disadvantage during the first period. This marked the most penalties killed in a game since Jan. 11 at San Antonio.

The trip moved on for a weekend set against the Ontario Reign and the Wild were stunned in a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday night. Kyle Rau’s big night started just 1:19 into the game as he scored to give the Wild a 1-0 lead for a league-leading 37th time. Just over two minutes later, Rau set up Mason Shaw’s fifth goal of the season to double the lead.

The Reign finally got on the board and cut the lead in half with five minutes remaining in the second period. Rau scored his second goal of the night to increase the lead to 3-1 four minutes into the third period. He completed his second hat trick of the season at the 8:30 mark of the frame and the Wild were cruising with a 4-1 lead.

Things began to fell apart when Mike Liambas was assessed a match penalty for charging, with 4:17 left in the game; giving the Reign a five-minute power play. They went on to score three power-play goals to force overtime and fourth to win the game early in the extra session. Saying that the Liambas penalty was a costly one is the understatement of the season!

After their penalty kill failures late Saturday night, the power play unit responded with four goals in 5-4 win in Sunday’s rematch. Defenseman Brennan Menell set a franchise record by recording five assists in the victory.

Mayhew scored the first power-play goal to tie the game late in the first period. He took a feed from Menell in the left circle and fired it past goaltender Cal Petersen to become the first Wild player to score 20 goals on the season. Sam Anas gave the Wild a 2-1 lead just over a minute later, while on another power play.

The second period saw six goals between the two teams, starting with Sokolov’s 12th goal of the season, the Wild’s only full-strength goal of the night at the 2:38 mark to extend the lead to 3-1.

Dmitry Sokolov of the Sudbury Wolves
Dmitry Sokolov has transitioned well into the AHL this season. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The Reign cut the lead in half less than five minutes later, which began a surge of three goals in a span of 1:51 to put them up 4-3. O’Reilly righted the ship by tying the game with just over five minutes left in the middle stanza. While on yet another power play, O’Reilly collected a pass from Anas at the left dot and quickly fired past Petersen’s glove hand.

The final goal came with just 48 seconds left in the period as Anas scored his second tally of the night from the right circle. Menell picked up the primary assist on the play for his fifth helper of the game.

After the craziness of the middle frame, the goaltenders took over in the third period and the Wild hung on for the win.

Player of the Week: Menell did set a franchise record with five assists on Sunday, but that wasn’t good enough to take this honor. While he did finish with six assists, O’Reilly capped off his week with two goals and seven points, while scoring in three of the four games last week. He leads the team with 37 assists and 48 points.

The Week Ahead: Friday, March 8 @ Grand Rapids Griffins; Saturday, March 9 @ Chicago Wolves

The Schedule Hurts the Griffins

The Grand Rapids Griffins (31-17-5-4) only had one game last week and it caused them to drop down to third place in the standings. After earning a lone point, the Griffins find themselves with 71 points but they are still just one point out of the top spot. The Griffins ventured out to Rockford for their only game of the week and they got their money’s worth in a 5-4 overtime loss to the IceHogs.

A disastrous first period saw the Griffins chasing three goals at the start of the middle frame. After giving up three straight goals in the first period, the Griffins answered with three straight goals of their own. Turner Elson got them on the board just over three minutes into the second period by shooting to the top right corner of the net off a face-off win.

Turner Elson Grand Rapids Griffins
Turner Elson started the comeback in Rockford. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Wade Megan cut the IceHogs lead down to a single goal with just under six minutes left in the frame. Martin Frk set up the play by spinning to avoid a defender before sliding the puck across the ice for Megan’s 15th goal of the season.

The Griffins were put on the power play within the first minute of the third period and it did not take them long to convert. The puck found Matt Puempel at the left point where he blasted a shot through heavy traffic and into the Rockford net.

IceHogs regained the lead with about six minutes remaining in regulation, but the Griffins were not quite ready to roll over. Puempel was in the right place at the right time to redirect a Dennis Cholowski shot from the right point into the IceHogs net to tie the game with just over two minutes left.

Matt Puempel Grand Rapids Griffins
Matt Puempel scored twice last week. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The overtime time was an exciting one with both teams getting golden chances to score. Unfortunately, the IceHogs were able to light the lamp in the final minute of the extra time for their fourth overtime win over the Griffins this season.

Player of the Week: Puempel had himself the best game of the all the Griffins on Friday, which means he also had the best week. Puempel scored a pair of game-tying goals in the third period. He is now second on the team with 22 goals and 44 points.

The Week Ahead: Wednesday, March 6 vs Texas Stars; Friday, March 8 vs Iowa Wild; Saturday, March 9 @ Milwaukee Admirals

Stars Find Themselves Back in a Playoff Spot

The Texas Stars (28-23-3-6) returned home last week and earned five out of a possible six points over their three games. The big week has the defending Western Conference champions back in the fourth and final playoff spot with 63 points.

The Stars had great success despite being without two of their top players as All-Star Denis Gurianov and leading scorer Joel L’Esperance who were both recalled by the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

Denis Gurianov Texas Stars
Denis Gurianov was recalled to the Dallas Stars. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Later that night, the Stars hosted the Admirals for their first home game since Feb. 16. Their 4-2 win improved their record against Milwaukee on the season to 5-0-2-0.

Michael Mersch got the Stars on the board order by scoring his 15th goal of the season just 35 seconds after the puck was dropped. Three minutes later, Brad McClure got to the rebound off a Colton Hargrove shot and deposited the puck back into a wide-open net. McClure extended the lead to 3-0 less than six minutes later while on the power play by tipping an Adam Mascherin pass into the cage for the first multi-goal game of the rookie’s AHL career.

The Admirals scored the only goal of the second period by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush five minutes into the middle frame. Early in the third period, they pulled within one goal by cashing in on a four-minute power play. Veteran Erik Condra iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute of the game. Landon Bow made 23 saves for his 19th win on the season and fifth against the Admirals.

The Stars welcomed the first-place Wolves to town for a set of back-to-back games to finish off their regular-season series. They suffered in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss in Friday night’s series opener. Mascherin put the Stars up 1-0 with seven minutes left in the first period by redirecting a Nicholas Caamano shot into the Chicago net for 16th goal of the season.

Phillipe Desrosiers looked like he was going to make that first-period goal hold up, but the Wolves forced overtime with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. They went on to win the game with a power-play goal a minute into the extra time. Desrosiers finished the night as the hard-luck loser with 20 saves.

Phillipe Desrosiers was a hard-luck loser on Friday night. (Photo credit: Michael Connell/Texas Stars Hockey)

The Stars rebounded nicely the following night with a 4-2 win, despite giving up two early goals. The Wolves scored on two of their first three shots, but Bow settled in nicely and the Stars went on to score the final four goals of the night.

Mersch started the comeback with a power-play goal from the slot with just 37 seconds left in the opening frame. Condra tied the game with another power-play goal early in the second period as he was able to finally score during a mad scramble in front of the Wolves.

Midway through the sandwich stanza, Caamano forced and turnover at center ice skated past a pair of defenders and juked the goaltender for the eventual game-winning goal. Robbie Payne scored an insurance goal early in the third period to cap off the scoring. After the rough start, Bow regrouped and made 18 saves for the victory in his 100th career game for the Stars.

Player of the Week: The Stars had a lot of candidates for this honor last week. Both of their goaltenders had a great week by giving up two goals in each of their three games. However, Caamano gets the nod as he scored a goal and added three assists to lead the team with four points. Three out of his seven goals on the season are game-winners, including his tally on Saturday night.

The Week Ahead: Wednesday, March 6 @ Grand Rapids Griffins; Saturday, March 9 @ San Antonio Rampage; Sunday, March 10 vs San Antonio Rampage

IceHogs Keeping Themselves in the Playoff Race

The Rockford IceHogs (27-23-3-6) are still scratching and clawing for each and every point down the stretch. They won one of their two games last week and find themselves tied with the Stars with 63 points. Since they have one less win than Texas, they are in fifth place and out of a playoff spot at the moment.

On Monday, the IceHogs learned that they would be regaining the services of All-Star goaltender Colin Delia. The Chicago Blackhawks activated Corey Crawford from injured reserve and reassigned Delia back to the IceHogs.

Collin Delia, Jordan Greenway
Collin Delia returned to the AHL last week. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The IceHogs started their week on Tuesday night with their sixth and final trip to Chicago to take on the Wolves. The road team dominated the first period, outshooting the Wolves 7-1 but the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes.

In fact, the IceHogs were unable to get any of their 27 shots on goal past Lagace and the Wolves’ second-period goal proved to be all they needed. Delia made 15 saves in his first game back in the AHL since Dec. 16.

On Thursday, the IceHogs assigned forward Brett Welychka to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. This was a sign that the team was about to get some injured players back in the lineup and that was the case as Terry Broadhurst and William Pelletier returned against the Griffins on Friday night. Unfortunately, Broadhurst would leave that game in the second period with an injury to either his hand or wrist.

Speaking of Friday night’s game versus the Griffins, the IceHogs grabbed two huge points in a wild 5-4 victory. The IceHogs played their best period of the season to open the game. Not only were they all over the Griffins, but they also built a commanding three-goal lead.

Jordan Schroeder started his big night by firing a shot from the right circle off of the left post and into the net nine minutes into the game. Spencer Watson scored his first goal with the IceHogs by tipping a Lucas Carlsson shot into the Grand Rapids’ net four and a half minutes later.

Jordan Schroeder Rockford Icehogs
Jordan Schroeder had anothge huge night for the IceHogs. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Defenseman Dennis Gilbert increased the lead to 3-0, with just 1.6 seconds left in the opening period, by crashing the net and backhanding the rebound from Luke Johnson’s shot into the net for his second goal of the season.

As great as the IceHogs were in the first period, the Griffins were nearly as good in the second. They got on the board about three minutes into the frame and cut the lead to one goal with less than six minutes left in it. The Griffins tied things up with a power-play tally just a minute into the third period.

The IceHogs came back to life after blowing their three-goal advantage and starting bringing the pressure that gave them that lead in the first place. Schroeder scored his second goal of the night, with about six minutes left to play, by snapping a one-timer just inside the right post. However, the Griffins forced overtime with a goal off a redirect with two minutes left in regulation.

The extra time had the big crowd on the edge of their seats as the IceHogs were denied on a few golden scoring chances and Delia came up huge by stopping a Chris Terry breakaway. With 35 seconds left on the clock, Schroeder got the puck below the goal line and set up Peter Holland in the slot for the game-winning goal.

Peter Holland Rangers
Peter Holland has been a huge addition for the IceHogs. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Player of the Week: Schroeder has been a huge addition to the IceHogs lineup all season long. He picked up two goals and an assist in their crazy win over the Griffins on Friday night. He has already built some great chemistry with Holland since he came over from the New York Rangers organization a couple of weeks ago. He is second on the team with 17 goals, 21 assists and 38 points.

The Week Ahead: Saturday, March 9 @ Manitoba Moose; Sunday, March 10 @ Manitoba Moose

Admirals Trying to Keep the Postseason Within Their Sites

The Milwaukee Admirals (24-22-12-1) spent their week in Texas and earned three points in their three games with the Stars and San Antonio Rampage. Their 61 points have them just two points out of the final playoff spot but just three points ahead of last place.

Before the Admirals kicked off their game action, the Nashville Predators announced that they signed forward Adam Helewka to a one-year, two-way contract that will begin in 2019-20. Since being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 8, Helewka has four goals and 11 points in 10 games for the Admirals.

On Wednesday, the Admirals traveled to Cedar Park, Texas  to take on the Stars, but fell short in a 4-2 loss. These two teams entered the night tied in the standings and the Stars built a three-goal lead before the game was even 10 minutes old.

Yakov Trenin got the Admirals on the board about five minutes into the second period with his 11th goal of the season. He and Joe Pendenza broke out on a 2-on-1 rush. Pendenza had his shot denied, but Trenin trailed the play and poked home the rebound.

Yakov Trenin Milwaukee Admirals
Yakov Trenin added to his stats last week. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The newly-extended Helewka cut the lead to 3-2 with a power-play goal just over four minutes into the final frame. It was the Admirals’ first successful power play since Feb. 2! The Stars iced the game with an empty-net tally in the final minute of play.

Before taking the ice in San Antonio Friday night, goaltender Troy Grosenick was signed by the Predators to a one-year, two-way contract that will begin in 2019-20. In his first season with the organization, Grosenick is 14-12-3 and was an AHL All-Star for the second time in his career. Later that night, Grosenick and the Admirals scored a 3-2 overtime win over the Rampage; their first victory since Feb. 17 at Manitoba.

Milwaukee Admirals Alexandre Carrier Troy Grosenick
Troy Grosenick will be back in Milwaukee next season.  (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Garret Ross returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 26 and made an immediate impact by scoring the first goal of the game. While on a second-period power-play, Ross found a loose puck in the slot and fired it home for his first goal since Dec. 11.

The suddenly red-hot Admirals power play doubled the lead about eight minutes later. While on a 5-on-3 advantage, Laurent Dauphin’s shot through heavy traffic found its way to the back of the net.

The Rampage got on the board midway through the third period and they eventually forced overtime with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.

Less than a minute into overtime, Jared Tinordi skated down the right boards, cut to the middle of the ice and then deked his way around the goaltender for the game-winning goal.

The Rampage would get revenge on Sunday afternoon with a 5-4 victory, also in overtime. The Admirals rallied with a trio of third-period goals to force the extra time and earn a valuable point in the standings.

Tinordi scored his second consecutive goal for the Admirals to get them on the board in the first period, but they found themselves trailing 2-1 at the first intermission. San Antonio lit the lamp two more times in the second period to take a 4-1 lead into the final stanza. Trenin started the comeback, five and a half minutes into the third period as the puck bounced off the end boards right to his stick in the right circle, where he quickly scored his 12th goal of the season.

Colin Blackwell’s power-play goal cut the lead to 4-3 with just under six minutes left to play. Frederic Allard tied the game just 46 seconds later by getting to a rebound off of Filip Pyrochta’s shot for his fourth goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Admirals, they found themselves shorthanded to start overtime and the Rampage took advantage to earn the extra point early in the extra time.

Player of the Week: The Admirals have been struggling to produce a consistent scoring attack for much of the season, so Helewka’s addition has been big for them as they approach the stretch run. Helewka picked up a goal and led the team with four points, finding the scoresheet in all three games last week.

The Week Ahead: Friday, March 8 vs Chicago Wolves; Saturday, March 9 vs Grand Rapids Griffins; Sunday, March 10 @ Chicago Wovles

Moose Look to Build Off of Big Week on the Road

The Manitoba Moose (27-26-3-2) spent their week in Ontario taking on a pair of Eastern Conference foes. They returned home with four points in three games. Their efforts have them in seventh place with 59 points. They sit just four points out of the final playoff spot, but will need to build off this momentum as every point is critical from here on out.

The Winnipeg Jets helped out the Moose to start the week by reassigning forward Mason Appleton and defenseman Tucker Poolman back to the AHL on Monday. Appleton led the Moose in scoring last season and Poolman leads all Manitoba defensemen is scoring this season.

Tucker Poolman Winnipeg Jets
Tucker Poolman is back with the Moose. (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Moose began their week with a Tuesday matinee against the Toronto Marlies where they came out with a 3-2 victory, their first win in four tries this season against the Marlies. Seth Griffith got the scoring started seven minutes into the game by beating former Moose goaltender Michael Hutchinson to the far corner of the net. Both Poolman and Appleton picked up assists on the play.

Marko Dano doubled the lead less than four minutes later by forcing a turnover and then having his centering pass hit a Toronto defender and bounce into the Marlies net. The home team cut the lead in half before the first intermission.

The Marlies tied the game with an early second-period power-play goal and kept the pressure up for most of the middle frame, but Eric Comrie kept the game even heading into the final period. The afternoon appeared to be heading to overtime, but Griffith struck again with just 34 seconds left in the third period to beat his former team.

Seth Griffith, Manitoba Moose
Seth Griffith now leads the Moose in scoring. (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

The road trip continued on to Belleville for a weekend series with the Senators that began with a 3-2 victory on Friday night. For the second straight game, the Moose struck first about seven minutes into the game; this time it was Jansen Harkins who scored while on the power play. Griffith doubled the lead with two minutes left in the period by beating goaltender Marcus Hogberg from the right circle.

The Senators answered just 33 seconds after Griffith’s goal and eventually tied the game with a power-play goal late in the second period. Mikhail Berdin faced 17 Senators shots in the middle frame, but only allowed the late tally.

The game headed to overtime after a scoreless third period. Berdin, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, stopped a breakaway and a penalty shot early in the extra time. Shortly thereafter, Griffith got to the front of the net to slide home the game-winning goal.

Saturday night’s rematch did not go so well for the Moose as they were shutout 4-0. The Senators opened the scoring late in the second period and scored three more goals during the final stanza. The Moose got 27 shots on goal, but could not figure out Hogberg.

Ottawa Senators Marcus Hogberg
Marcus Hogberg was a hard nut to crack on Saturday night. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Player of the Week: Griffith continues his impressive run. He paced the team with four goals after his back-to-back two-goal performances. He now leads the team with 31 assists and 43 points, taking over the scoring lead from Logan Shaw.

The Week Ahead: Saturday, March 9 vs Rockford IceHogs; Sunday, March 10 vs Rockford IceHogs

Rampage Need Points and They Need Them Now

The San Antonio Rampage (26-26-6-0) struggled for much of the week, but finished off on a high note. They sit at the bottom of the division with 58 points, but are far from out of playoff contention. However, another disappointing week or two will have them playing the role of spoiler over the final few games.

They started their week with a two-game set at the Colorado Eagles, but before they took the ice, they learned they would do it without one of their top players. The St. Louis Blues recalled Sammy Blais for another stint in the NHL.

Tuesday’s game in Colorado started off well, but the Rampage dropped a hard-fought 5-3 decision. The game saw the Rampage score a pair of power-play goals and also give up two shorthanded goals. Former Rampage forward Andrew Agozzino scored the first shorthanded goal to give the Eagles a lead eight minutes into the game.

Andrew Agozzino (by Ashley Potts courtesy of the Colorado Eagles)
Andrew Agozzino came back to haunt his former team.  (Ashley Potts courtesy of the Colorado Eagles)

Ryan Olsen fended off multiple skates and sticks to tap home the puck while on the power play to tie the game a little over a minute later. Jordan Nolan gave the Rampage a 2-1 lead with his 14th goal of the season and third in as many games. The Eagles responded with three straight goals in the second period, including their second shorthanded goal on the night, to take a 4-2 lead. The Eagles now lead the AHL with 14 shorthanded goals on the season.

Goaltender Jared Coreau was lifted after the fourth goal and replaced by Ville Husso, who had not played since Dec. 27 due to injury. He stopped all five shots he saw.

Martin Frk, Grand Rapids Griffins and Ryan Olsen, Jordan Schmaltz and Jared Coreau, Chicago Wolves
Jared Coreau (1) was pulled after a rough start in Colorado/ (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Olsen scored his second power-play goal of the night late in the third period,by finding the back of the net with a one-timer from the hash marks. Colorado sealed the deal with an empty-net goal with just over a minute left in the game. The Rampage finished their season-high 10-game road trip on a sour note. Agozzino terrorized his former teammates with a hat trick and a four-point performance in a 6-0 route. The Rampage finished their annual “rodeo trip” with a 2-5-3 record.

They returned home on Friday night and had a late-game comeback spoiled in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Admirals in front of over 11,000 fans on Military Appreciation Night. Milwaukee scored a pair of second-period power-play goals to take a 2-0 lead into the final frame. Klim Kostin got some puck luck midway through the third period to get his team on the board. He missed Olsen with a centering pass, but the puck hit off a defender’s skate and found the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Klim Kostin
Klim Kostin is looking to live up to the hype. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Rampage got a power play late in the frame and pulled Husso for a 6-on-4 advantage. The move paid off as Chris Butler’s shot through traffic tied the game with three minutes left in regulation. The Admirals regrouped and scored in the final minute of the extra time to hand the Rampage their fifth straight loss in overtime games. That losing streak came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the Rampage returned the favor with a 5-4 overtime in the rematch.

Nolan started the scoring midway through the first period by redirecting a Mitch Reinke shot into the Milwaukee net. Reinke’s assist gave him 35 points on the season, breaking Keith Yandle’s franchise record for the most points by a rookie defenseman set in the 2006-07 season.

The Admirals tied the game with 58 seconds left in the first period. Jordan Kyrou quickly responded with just 15 seconds to go to give the Rampage a 2-1 advantage heading into the first intermission.

Jordan Kyrou
Whether he’s in St. Louis or San Antonio, Jordan Kyrou has been very effective. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Tanner Kaspick’s third goal of the season gave the Rampage 3-1 lead six minutes into the second period. Reinke scored on a 5-on-3 advantage with just over five minutes left in the middle frame to extend the advantage to 4-1. The Admirals came out firing in the third period cut the deficit to two goals early in the period.

They then scored a pair of goals 46 seconds apart late in regulation to force overtime. Kyrou drew a penalty with 22 seconds left in regulation and Reinke scored on the 4-on-3 power play in overtime to win the game. Reinke’s first professional overtime goal ended a four-game winless skid for the Rampage and also extended their home-ice point streak to 16 straight games.

Players of the Week: Kyrou has made more than one trip up to St. Louis during the season, but when he has been in San Antonio, he has been the Rampage’s most valuable player. He scored a goal and led the team with four points in four games. He is still maintaining a point-per-game average with 41 points in 41 games.

The Week Ahead: Saturday, March 9 vs Texas Stars; Sunday, March 10 @ Texas Stars

When we meet again next week, it will be interesting to see how the standings shake out. All games this week are within the Central Division so the playoff race could look much different!