SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Matthew Spiller, Frantisek Lukes and Randall Gelech each scored power play goals, as the San Antonio Rampage rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 win over the Houston Aeros at SBC Center. Steve Passmore made 24 saves for San Antonio, which avenged a 6-5 loss in Houston on Friday.
Erik Westrum scored a power play goal and Erik Reitz also had a tally for Houston, which was trying to win its first two games for the second time in its 12-year history. Josh Harding finished with 31 saves for the Aeros, who play game two of a five-game road trip Friday in Peoria at 7:30 p.m.
Houston fell to 25-6-5-2 all-time against the Rampage, and lost in regulation for just the fourth time in 19 trips to SBC Center (9-4-4-2). It marked just the Aeros’ second loss in regulation in the last 20 meetings (15-2-2-1).
The Aeros got 14 seconds of a 5-on-3 early in the game, but couldn’t get one by Passmore.
However, just after the second penalty expired, Reitz found the net. Bryan Lundbohm dug the puck out of the left corner and walked in on Passmore. He slid a quick pass to Reitz, cutting down the slot. Reitz one-timed a shot low and by Passmore at the 7:02 mark. The fourth-year pro took 33 games to notch his first goal last season.
Curtis Murphy sent a laser beam on Passmore on a nice feed from Reitz at the midway point of the first and Houston on an extended power play, but the puck clanged off the crossbar.
Passmore kept Houston’s lead at one early in the second. Murphy sliced a bullet pass through traffic to Kurtis Foster as he broke out of the penalty box. Foster ripped a shot from the left point, but Passmore made a body save.
Westrum and Law, who combined for nine points Friday night, helped get the Aeros on top 2-0 at 5:19 of the second. With Houston on the power play, Law held the puck along the left boards and left a drop pass for Murphy at the point. Murphy took a step and fired a slapshot towards Passmore, and Westrum - facing Murphy - tipped the puck up and over the netminder for his fifth point in the last day.
Murphy’s assist was the 102nd point of his Aeros career, moving him into a tie for 20th place in team history in that category.
San Antonio answered back with Spiller’s goal, just 62 seconds later with Houston’s Joey Tetarenko in the box for holding. Frantisek Lukes slid a cross-crease pass from right to left, and Spiller whacked it into the open net.
The Aeros enjoyed a five-minute advantage beginning with 8:49 left in the second, when Joe Callahan high-sticked Adam Courchaine and drew blood. Passmore’s best save came early in the sequence, when he snared a Westrum shot from the left circle.
With 1:47 left on the Callahan penalty, David Cornacchia picked up a hooking penalty. Aeros head coach Rob Daum took a timeout to set up the lengthy two-man advantage. But Passmore stood tall until Roman Voloshenko picked up an interference minor late on the power play.
San Antonio nearly tied the score with Passmore off for a delayed penalty late in the second. Houston briefly touched the puck, and the whistle blew just before the puck went behind Harding.
The Rampage broke through with a pair in the final period, while outshooting the Aeros 18-5. Houston had to kill off five minor penalties in a 20-minute stretch spanning the second and third.
Lukes got the Rampage even with a power play goal only 1:17 into the third. He weaved through traffic and let a low shot go, and the puck eluded Harding.
Harding fell back to cover a loose, jammed puck off the stick of Martin Podlesak with 15:24 remaining in regulation. Seconds later, Passmore had his turn, kicking out Murphy’s point blast while on his side.
San Antonio’s veteran defenseman Brad Ference wristed a long shot off the post with San Antonio again on the power play midway through the third period, but seconds later the Rampage got the lead. Matt Jones unleashed a drive from the left point. Harding made a nice save, but left the rebound on the deck. Gelech hopped on the puck and slid it into an open net.
Houston was whistled for too many men on the ice with 4:06 left, stunting a possible comeback. But the favor was returned with 2:08 remaining in the form of a Jakub Koreis holding penalty.
Passmore kicked out Foster’s blast from the left point early in the advantage to seal the victory.
Houston finished 1-for-8 on the power play, while San Antonio went 3-for-10.
The Aeros scratched Miroslav Kopriva, Chris Heid, Anders Myrvold, Colin Peters, Patrick O’Sullivan and Nicolas Corbeil. Other than Seamus Kotyk backing up Harding, the Aeros’ lineup was unchanged from Opening Night.
Michael Maurice also tallied 102 points. Dan Cavanaugh is 19th at 106, and Aeros special assistant to hockey Cam Stewart is 18th at 107.
Former Aero Jeff Hoggan scored his first NHL goal tonight for the St. Louis Blues.