Colby Robak reminded the San Antonio faithful why he was an American League All-Star last season, as his third period goal gave the San Antonio Rampage (1-1-0-0) their first win of the season, 3-2, over the Houston Aeros (0-2-0-0) Sunday afternoon in front of 4,092 at the AT&T Center.
Robak also had an assist to cap off a two-point night en route to being named the First Star of the Game. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom stood tall in net for the Rampage, stopping 30 of the 32 shots he faced.
"It was huge," said Robak of the victory. "Last night I think there was some nerves around the room. A lot of guys first game and what not. It's pro hockey. It's a big step from junior and college and where they played before so tonight was better offensively, defensively, controlling the neutral zone and it paid off."
The Rampage penalty killers once again produced a solid effort as they held Houston to 2-for-9 on the man advantage, improving to 2-for-17 in their first two games of the year.
"Of course we have to improve on that, not taking too many penalties," said Markstrom. "It's been bad these first two games but our PK has stepped up and have been playing unbelievable, especially in the third period."
Houston converted on the power play to open the scoring at 3:46 when rookie Charlie Coyle redirected a cross crease pass by Markstrom to put the Aeros up 1-0.
Four minutes later, the Rampage struck back with a power-play goal of their own when Jean-Francois Jacques deflected in a rebound off his skate from a point shot by Robak. The goal was the first of the season for Jacques.
At 4:15 into the second period the Rampage claimed the lead when Houston netminder Matt Hackett misplayed the puck behind his own net. Center Greg Rallo grabbed the puck out of the air and sent a backhand shot past a scrambling Hackett to give the Rampage the lead.
"I thought we did a better job in our support and our offensive zone play," said head coach Chuck Weber. "I thought we were a little bit closer on the forecheck which allowed us to sustain some pressure. I thought we did a better job from that end of the game. We played alright five-on-five."
Markstrom made several acrobatic saves in the second period to keep the Rampage in the game, including a right pad save that took away a sure goal from Houston forward Zack Phillips.
"It feels great to finally get started with some games and not practice all the time," said Markstrom.
Aeros forward Jason Zucker tallied a power-play goal with just over a minute remaining in the second period to send the two teams into the intermission knotted at 2-2. Markstrom made the initial save on Zucker, but the Houston rookie was able to net the rebound.
The score remained tied through more than half of the third period until Casey Wellman fed a trailing Robak at the top of the left circle. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound defenseman fired a slapshot that beat Hackett clean to reclaim the lead for San Antonio.
"We were in our defensive end and we had a play set up just to get it out and it worked so that's kind of my game is jumping up in the play," recalled Robak. "Casey (Wellman) made an unreal pass that just laid out there for me and I just buried my head, shot it and fortunately it went in."
The Rampage were able to hold on for the win and grabbed their first two points of the season.
The Silver and Black will travel to Oklahoma City on Friday night where they will face the Barons at 7:00 p.m. before returning home to face off against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday at the AT&T center. Faceoff for Saturday’s tilt is set for 7:00 p.m. Individual game tickets can be purchased by calling 210-444-5554 or by visiting sarampage.com.