ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The San Antonio Rampage are the latest team to play giant slayer in Abbotsford.
The Rampage, who entered Tuesday night last in the American Hockey League, defeated the first-place Abbotsford Heat 3-2 in overtime.
The Heat loss comes after giving up one at home to the Hamilton Bulldogs, who were in the AHL's cellar but climbed out with a 3-0 win Saturday.
"Every night, because they're a first-place team, they have a bull's eye on their back," said San Antonio's Jon Rheault. "People are always going to try to bring their best."
San Antonio is now 3-1-0 on their current road trip that wraps up Wednesday in a rematch of the two Western Conference teams.
"We just needed a chance to get away for a little bit together as a team," said head coach Chuck Weber. "Last year when we came to Abbotsford we were in a similar predicament with a very short-handed team and got a couple wins so hopefully we can have the same success this time."
Defenceman Jason DeSantis scored 35 seconds into overtime, taking a feed from former Heat forward and current Rampage leading scorer Rheault and chipped the puck over goalie Barry Brust for his first of the season. The play began with a turnover in the Rampage zone.
"They had good pressure coming into our zone," said Rheault. "(Rampage goalie Jacob Markstrom) made a save and (Tyson) Strachan kind of batted it out of the air. I kind of picked it up and had probably three-quarters of the ice three-on-two. DeSantis did a great job driving through, clearing the lane for me. It's exactly how you draw up a three-on-two. He got rewarded by getting that goal. I made a pass over to Drew Shore and he made a great pass back."
Rheault, who until last week was the all-time leading scorer for the Heat, has 18 points with the Rampage this season, including 14 in 12 November games.
"He got off to a bit of a slow start for us but he really picked it up for us," said Weber. "He and Drew Shore have created a nice combination together. He's a little under the weather right now but he gave us everything he had, on both special teams too. He works hard every night and I hope he can continue to build on that."
Roman Horak had a goal and an assist for the Heat (13-3-5), while Max Reinhart also scored.
The Rampage jumped out to an early lead after a giveaway by defenceman Chris Breen. James Wright intercepted a clearing attempt and threw the puck on net. Brust kicked it out but Wellman capitalized on the rebound at 3:24.
"Getting that first goal put the thought in our mind, 'OK, we can beat this team,'" said Rheault.
The Heat evened the score less than three minutes later with Rheault in the penalty box. Paul Byron's slapshot was deflected by Horak, giving the Czech winger 12 goals on the season.
The Rampage regained the lead before the end of the first. Rallo took a feed from Robak and wired a wrist shot just inside the post on the short side, giving him a team-leading seven goals on the season.
Abbotsford tied the game again at 10:37 of the second period. Horak dug the puck out from behind the net and threw it out to Reinhart, who one-timed it past Markstrom for his first of the season.
Reinhart had four points in five games for the Heat late last season but had been held to just two assists this year through 19 games.
"That's the longest I've ever gone without a goal and it's the tightest I've ever hugged someone for giving me an assist," he said.
Brust had a nice glove save off of Strachan with less than two minutes to go in regulation but he was beaten by the only shot he faced in the extra frame.
"We definitely stole one tonight," said Rheault. "On the road, going into the third period with a chance to win the game, and then winning in overtime, it's a good moment for our team right now."