SAN ANTONIO – For the second straight game, the Rampage found themselves in a tie game in the third period.
Once again, they found a way to win.
With under four minutes left in regulation, Dakota Joshua beat Stars goaltender Landon Bow with a wrister from the blue line. That goal proved be the game-winner, as San Antonio survived a late surge to win, 3-2. It’s the team’s first winning streak of the new year.
“It says a lot about how we’re progressing in the right direction,” Joshua said. “It’s a tough league to win in, so to see us finally coming out on top of those one-goal games is good for us. It gives us a lot of confidence heading down the stretch.”
The victory came in front of a packed AT&T Center. Over 12,000 fans entered the arena for the 10th annual Pink in the Rink night, many decked out in pink themselves with signs in support of breast cancer fighters and survivors. A number of survivors took the ice with the players as part of a pregame ceremony that electrified the crowd.
“I thought our fans were great, and it was nice having everybody out here for the cause,” said head coach Drew Bannister. “It’s an important game for our players, the organization and the American Hockey League as a whole.”
“We love to play in these games," Joshua said. “It’s a special cause, and it’s good knowing that everyone who was cheering for us tonight left the building happy.”
The Rampage capitalized on that energy and jumped out to a quick lead in the first period thanks to an early power play opportunity. Nolan Stevens put home a nice feed from Klim Kostin to put San Antonio up 1-0 just over a minute into the game. Team captain Jordan Nolan doubled the lead just two-and-a-half minutes later, this time burying a no-look pass from Stevens in the back of the net. San Antonio was outshot 15-6 in the first period, but led 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
“Tonight, we really wanted to jump on them early, and I think we did a good job of keeping it simple, getting pucks on net,” Stevens said. “It’s a lot easier to play with a lead. It gives guys confidence to keep making plays and keep pushing.”
After being outshot 16-6 in the second period, Texas broke through again in the third. Stars left-winger Jason Robertson notched the equalizer with his second goal of the night on a power play with seven minutes left in regulation. San Antonio appeared headed to overtime before Joshua’s go-ahead goal saved the night.
“Third period, I thought we were good," Bannister said. "It’s just that they’re a good hockey team, they were able to tie it up on their power play. But we kept with it, and I think we did a really good job at the end. Early on in this homestand, we weren’t getting the bounces. We weren’t able to separate, and after losing a lot of those games -- whether it was in overtime or in a shootout -- hopefully the tide is turning here, going onto the road for us.”
San Antonio will start their 10-game road trip against the Iowa Wild on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The puck drops at 7 p.m.