Griffins Begin Road Trip With Loss Against Rampage

<strong>GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2 at San Antonio Rampage 4</strong>

SAN ANTONIO – The Grand Rapids Griffins lost their fourth consecutive contest against the San Antonio Rampage in a 4-2 decision on Friday night at the AT&T Center to begin their four-game road trip.

The Griffins (26-25-3-4) tied the game 2-2 at the 3:20 mark of the third period but could not withstand a surging Rampage team that netted the final two goals of the contest and are now winners of four straight. Rookie defenseman Charle-Edouard D’Astous tallied his first goal as a Griffin in his AHL debut after being recalled from Toledo on Feb. 24. Grand Rapids is now tied for third place in the Central Division with Rockford, one point ahead of San Antonio, and two points ahead of Chicago.

The Griffins, who have points in 15 of their last 21 games (12-6-1-2), will continue their road trip when they battle the Texas Stars on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST.

Grand Rapids jumped ahead at the 8:58 mark of the opening frame when Joe Veleno placed a wrist shot into the left corner. Along the right-wing boards, Taro Hirose sent a pass into the middle of the zone and Veleno fired the puck over the blocker of Ville Husso for his 10th of the season. Hirose’s helper extended his assist streak to four games (0-4—4).

The goal advantage lasted only 12 seconds as the Rampage (23-21-7-5) evened the scoreline on a one-timer from Mike Vecchione. Derrick Pouliot backhanded an attempt that was saved by Pat Nagle, but the puck slid to the left side of the crease. Vecchione was able to sneak the puck past the right skate of Nagle for his 21st of the season.

San Antonio gained the lead with 32 seconds remaining in the first when Tanner Kaspick netted his sixth of the year. Former Griffin Zach Nastasiuk fired one from the center point toward Kaspick in front of the crease. Kaspick tipped the shot with his stick and the puck floated past the glove of Nagle.

After a scoreless middle frame the contest headed into the third with the Rampage holding onto a 2-1 lead. However, the Griffins power play went to work early in the period and D’Astous tied the contest at the 3:20 mark. From the left circle, Matt Puempel dropped a pass to D’Astous waiting at the right point. D’Astous smashed a one-timer that sped over the stick of Husso and into the left corner.

Despite being outshot 4-1 in the opening five minutes, San Antonio regained control of the game when Josh Ho-Sang tallied his fourth of the season with 14:31 remaining. Jordan Nolan backhanded a pass from the top of the crease toward Ho-Sang at the bottom of the left circle. From a sharp angle, Ho-Sang rifled an attempt over the shoulder of the netminder.

The Griffins sent Nagle to the bench with 2:02 remaining but could not take advantage of the extra attacker as Nolan scored his ninth of the year on the empty net. Nastasiuk and Nolan connected in the neutral zone along the left boards and Nolan hammered a shot down the ice to give San Antonio a 4-2 victory.

Notes: The Rampage outshot Grand Rapids 31-27…The Griffins’ power play went 1-for-6 while the penalty kill went 5-for-5…Nagle finished with 27 saves.

Three Stars: 1. SA Ho-Sang (game-winning goal); 2. SA Nolan (goal, assist); 3. SA Nastasiuk (two assists)

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[Post content courtesy of the Grand Rapids Griffins]