When the San Antonio Rampage rolled into Toronto on Friday night, things didn’t look promising for the Silver & Black. The team was on a five game losing skid with starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom between the pipes for four of the matches. But the Rampage came out fighting and a powerplay opportunity in their favour just 26 seconds into the game – when Marlies’ captain Ryan Hamilton was handed a four minute double minor for high-sticking – gave them time to gain their footing and a sense of the team they were up against.
Local Rampage favourite Jared Gomes – a former Mississauga St. Michael’s Major and Brampton boy – scored the first goal of the game for San Antonio at 6:14 of the first on a giveaway by Marlies defenseman Simon Gysbers. Marlies fans were floored. The shots on net for the Rampage nearly doubled those by the Marlies as the end of the first approached and it looked like the Marlies’ effort might fall flat.
But on a jaw-dropping partial breakaway past Rampage captain Nolan Yonkman and a sweet deke, Marlies’ captain Ryan Hamilton scored a beautiful goal that etched his name in the Marlies’ franchise record book as the all-time leading goal scorer for the team with 75 goals. The game was tied 1-1 with 2:17 to play in the period.
Going into the second period with the Rampage leading 13-7 in shots, the “switch-to-offensive mode” momentum shift from Ryan Hamilton’s goal didn’t hold. San Antonio buckled down and kept the Marlies to three shots in the period. Fortunately for Toronto, Markstrom’s goaltending didn’t stand up to two of the shots that did get through.
Marlies Carter Ashton and Matt Frattin went into the San Antonio zone in a two-on-one breakaway half way through the period. Rampage defenseman Nolan Yonkman couldn’t get back in time to help Colby Robak who misread a potential pass to Frattin and was unable to stop Ashton as he drove to the net and fired the puck past Markstrom giving the Marlies a 2-1 lead at 9:16 of the second.
Mike “Hot As A Firecracker” Kostka continued Toronto’s abuse of San Antonio’s Yonkman by effectively utilizing him to block Markstrom when he fired one in from the slot off a great passing play by Spencer Abbott. With 2:32 to go in the second, the Marlies had a two goal, 3-1 lead.
By the third, the Marlies’ offensive effort looked reasonable as far as the score was concerned, but the shots on net was unsettling with the Marlies’ 10 shots to the Rampage’s 26. The Marlies held their defense tight and San Antonio’s shots to 5 in the third while working to get 6 shots in the period.
With 1:43 left in regulation and a powerplay advantage, Mike Kostka passed the puck to Paul Ranger who shot a speed-of-light one-timer between Markstrom’s blocker and stick that bounced back through the netminder’s five-hole before the goal light had even been turned on.
The Marlies took the 4-1 win while the Rampage outshot the Marlies 31-15.
- Ben Scrivens stopped 30 of 31 shots.
- Ryan Hamilton (1G, 1A), Mike Kostka (1G, 1A), Carter Ashton (1G), Paul Ranger (1G PP), Spencer Abbott (2A), Keith Aucoin (1A).
- Toronto was 1-for-5 on the powerplay and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
- Captain Ryan Hamilton, in his fifth season with the Marlies scored his 75th goal with the team, surpassing former Marlie Jeremy Williams who played four seasons with the team.
- Mike Kostka recorded two points, stretching his point streak to seven games.
- Keith Aucoin has 8 points (2G, 6A) in December.
- Players out of the line-up: Mike Zigomanis (shoulder), Nazem Kadri (lower), Jesse Blacker (flu), Dylan Yeo (healthy scratch). Jake Gardiner remains out of action with concussion-like symptoms.