After the Rampage had an apparent goal disallowed within seconds of the puck drop, it was the Checkers who found the board first. With a five-on-three advantage less than three minutes in, Andrew Poturalski slid a pass to Phil Di Giuseppe on the back post for the power-play conversion. That would hold up as the only goal on the first frame, and the Checkers headed off with a one-goal lead.
The Rampage again came out firing in the second, only this time they legally put the puck in the back of the net. After a shot clanked off the post and into the crease, a mass of bodies converged and the puck ended up over the goal line to knot the game at one. Once again, there would be no more scoring in the period, and the game proceeded to the third tied.
Both teams ramped up their offensive pressure in the third, but neither side could put anything together until the final four minutes, when Sam Henley curled in from the corner and fired off a quick shot from the faceoff dot that beat Alex Nedeljkovic and gave the home team the lead. The Checkers pushed back looking for a late equalizer, but couldn’t muster any goals, and an empty netter from Rocco Grimaldi sealed the win for San Antonio.
The biggest deficiency for the Checkers, as it has been over the past few games, was their offense. The team struggled mightily to string together chances, registering a season-low 22 shots for the second-consecutive game and scoring one or fewer goals in regulation for the third straight.
Nedeljkovic, making his first appearance between the pipes in four games, stopped 24 of the shots he saw from the Rampage, including several prime scoring chances, but it was fellow rookie Spencer Martin who would walk away with the victory, making 21 saves.
The Checkers will round out this long road trip with a rematch tomorrow night in San Antonio before returning home for a busy slate of tilts next week at Bojangles’ Coliseum.