Nathan Walker’s goal with 4:06 remaining served as the game-winner as the San Antonio Rampage earned a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves Tuesday night at Allstate Arena to spoil the Wolves’ 1,000th regular-season home game.
The Wolves (8-10-1-0) took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on a pair of Nicolas Roy power-play goals. Forward Curtis McKenzie scored in the third period to forge a 3-3 knot that Walker unlocked.
“You could see an improvement in our power play, without a doubt,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “Unfortunately, the enthusiasm turned into a lack of effort from everybody and they just thought it was going to be easy.”
Brandon Pirri and Roy – both loaned Sunday by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights — needed just 1:58 to create their first goal for the Wolves this season.
Working on the power play, Pirri threaded a pass from the far edge of the right circle to Lucas Elvenes at the left faceoff dot. Elvenes saw Rampage goaltender Adam Wilcox square up to face him, so he found Roy open on the doorstep for an easy redirect.
Roy’s second goal also came on a first-period power play as Elvenes set up defenseman Jimmy Schuldt for a blast from the point. Wilcox blocked Schuldt’s shot, but the rebound fell to Roy’s feet just outside the crease. Roy got his stick down quickly and flicked the puck past the diving Wilcox at 15:18 for a 2-0 lead.
San Antonio (7-5-3-2) sliced the margin in half at 1:28 of the second on center Mike Vecchione’s 10th goal of the season. The Rampage and Wolves battled to control the puck in Chicago’s defensive zone, then a Wolves defenseman’s poke check put the puck right on Vecchione’s stick in the slot for a quick wrister past goaltender Garret Sparks.
Vecchione, who finished with four points, followed up with his second goal of the night to make it 2-2 at 8:16 of the second. Sparks blocked Jordan Kyrou’s shot, but the rebound went in front of the crease. As Vecchione was checked to his backside, he found a way to sweep his stick on the ice and knock the puck past Sparks.
San Antonio seized a 3-2 lead on forward Nathan Walker’s goal 53 seconds into the third period, but McKenzie knotted it at 4:54. Gage Quinney zipped down the right wing, dipped just below the goal line and sent a backhand pass across the crease to McKenzie, who poked the puck past Wilcox.
The Rampage regained the lead with 4:06 to go on Walker’s second goal of the period. He set up camp just outside the Wolves’ crease, accepted a pass from Kyrou and lifted it top-shelf for a 4-3 edge.
Kyrou made it 5-3 with 50 seconds to go when he delivered on a 5-on-3 power play.
Sparks (4-6-1) finished with 35 saves while Wilcox (2-1-2) posted 16 saves for the win.
The Wolves travel to Cleveland for 6 p.m. games on Thursday and Friday before returning to Allstate Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 27, to face the Grand Rapids Griffins on Craft Beer Night.