ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - The Abbotsford Heat continue to struggle on home ice.
Abbotsford fell to 2-5-1 at home and into third place in their division after a 3-1 loss to the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday afternoon.
The Heat managed a tie for first in the American Hockey League last weekend on the strength of a 6-1-0 road trip, but after back-to-back losses to the visiting Rampage the Heat (13-7-1) may be happy to head back on the road.
"We're getting challenged mentally right now," said Heat head coach Troy Ward. "(With this schedule) this is probably ... one of the most difficult stretches I've ever coached in."
The Rampage were last in the West Division entering the game but have now leapfrogged into fourth with the road win ? where they've also had some success.
"We've been on the road for 10 days now and we knew it was going to be a tough series," said Rampage captain Nolan Yonkman. "We kind of treated it like a mini-playoff, within-our-division idea. We wanted to play our game and I think we accomplished that against them."
Bill Thomas scored the winner in the third period, while Cody Robak and David Marshall also scored for San Antonio (9-11-0).
Quintin Laing had the lone Abbotsford goal.
Goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris now has back-to-back victories in his return to the AHL this weekend, making 30 saves Sunday including a late partial-breakaway stop off Jon Rheault.
"We were very lucky to have him play sharp (coming in to a new team)," said Yonkman. "That was a big part of it. The first game he shut the door and he responded with another big game today and that was a big thing. If your goaltender's playing well your confidence goes up."
Abbotsford's Leland Irving (13-7-0) made 16 stops in the loss.
The Rampage took the lead early. Just 29 seconds into the game ??? already playing four-on-four after a scrum at the nine-second mark ??? Robak took a snapshot from just inside the blue-line that made it through a pair of bodies to the top corner of the net.
The Heat thought they tied the game midway through the second period on the power play when Krys Kolanos beat Grumet-Morris, but referee Mark Lemelin waved it off due to "unintentional interference" with the goalie by Guillaume Desbiens.
"It's hard to critique a referee's judgment but I don't think he was very well positioned to make that call," said Desbiens, an alternate captain with the Heat.
"I wasn't in the crease and he came towards me so I don't think it should have been a penalty, so good call, but ... I thought it should have been a goal."
Abbotsford tied the game when captain Laing took a slapshot that beat Grumet-Morris in the top-right corner at 13:23 of the second.
Just as an Abbotsford penalty expired in the third Thomas put San Antonio up 2-1. The puck came to him in the slot and he spun around and chipped it over Irving's glove at 6:54.
Marshall's third of the year gave San Antonio some insurance with a wrist shot off the rush at 14:17.
San Antonio closes out their road trip with a game against the Oklahoma City Barons on Dec. 2 but first head home for a rest.
"We've got to get home and regroup back in Texas and then get ready for Friday and then business as usual," said Yonkman.
Abbotsford next travels to take on the Milwaukee Admirals on Nov. 29.