The San Antonio Rampage dropped an important weekend set against the visiting Charlotte Checkers to fall nine points behind the Milwaukee Admirals for the final playoff spot in the AHL's Western Conference.
On Friday, the Rampage lost a 5-4 shootout decision to the Checkers. despite leading twice in regulation time. Justin Shugg opened the scoring for Charlotte with a goal 8:28 into the first period. Wade Megan replied for San Antonio later in the frame. John McFarland and Mike Mottau collected the helpers on Megan's sixth goal. Bobby Butler notched a power-play goal, from Joey Crabb, 59 seconds into period number two to give San Antonio the lead. Butler scored again 2:03 later, this time Drew Shore and Colby Robak got the helpers, to make it 3-1 for the home side. The brace gave Butler a team-leading 18 goals on the season. Charlotte got tallies from Sean Dolan and Aaron Palushaj to forge a 3-3 tie. Garrett Wilson scored with 4:59 left in the middle frame to put the Silver and Black back on top. Shore and Alex Petrovic collected assists on the goal. The Checkers got a second goal from Dolan midway through the third period to even the game, ultimately forcing overtime. Palushaj scored in the first round of the skills competition before new Rampage member Mark Mancari converted in the third. Brody Sutter beat Michael Houser in the fourth round for the decisive goal and goalie John Muse denied Petrovic in round five to give the Checkers, who are also chasing Milwaukee, the extremely important bonus point. Houser finished the game with 36 saves, while Muse stopped 35 for Charlotte.
In Sunday's rematch, recently demoted veteran Scott Clemmensen would get the start for the Rampage, but Charlotte managed to leave the Alamo City with a huge 4-3 win and four points. Brett Sutter and Jared Staal quickly dented Clemmensen to give the Checkers a two-goal advantage just 6:14 into the game. Ryan Whitney scored a power play goal midway through the frame to get San Antonio on the board. Mark Mancari and Bobby Butler picked up the assists on Whitney's fifth. Jed Ortmeyer converted 2:20 later with San Antonio enjoying another man-advantage. Wade Megan and John McFarland picked up the helpers. Brett Sutter scored again, this time with Charlotte on a power play, midway through the second period to make it 3-2 Checkers. Matt Gilroy and Trevor Lewis combined to set up a Megan marker 7:42 into the final frame to pull the Rampage even. Aaron Palushaj beat Clemmensen four minutes later for the decisive goal, his 20th, with 9:19 remaining. John Muse denied the Rampage the rest of the way sending the Silver and Black to their fourth straight defeat. Muse made 34 saves to get the win, while Clemmensen stopped 24 of 28 shots for San Antonio.
The Rampage (24-25-3-6) have a busy week in front of them. They will play at Oklahoma City on Tuesday and host Grand Rapids on Thursday. The club will then hit the road for weekend games against Milwaukee on Saturday and Iowa on Sunday.