San Antonio Rampage Update

(6-6-0; 3rd in West Division)

Since our last check-in with the Rampage about 2 weeks ago, things have taken a bit of a nosedive. After opening the season with a 5-2-0 record, the Rampage have followed that up with 4 straight losses and 1 win on Sunday night. The strong defense and goaltending has suddenly let the team down, while roster shake-ups can be blamed as well.

On October 29th the Rampage participated in a shootout reminiscent of old-school Sega Genesis games. After 2 periods of going back and forth, the Rampage lost late in the 3rd period to the Adirondack Flames, 7-6. Goaltenders Michael Houser and Joni Ortio were just overrun with pucks and Ortio wound up playing slightly better in the last 10 minutes to pull out the win. The following day, 2 of the Rampage’s more productive forwards, Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi were called up to the Florida Panthers after a slew of injuries. The Rampage tried to fill this offensive loss over the next week by calling up prospects Wade Megan, Joe Basaraba and Andrew Yogan from their ECHL affiliate, the Cincinnati Cyclones.

On Halloween night, the Rampage did not have any of their call-ups available and Dan Ellis turned in another subpar performance, letting in 5 goals and an empty netter. The Rampage dropped this first game of a double header to the Rockford Ice Hogs, 6-3. The second game saw Wade Megan return to the Rampage lineup, but they were again put in their place in a 5-1 loss. Michael Houser has now let in 12 goals in his last 2 games, which encouraged coach Tom Rowe to give Dan Ellis the season’s first back-to-back starts the following weekend.

November 7th saw the club take on the Toronto Marlies. With forwards Andrew Yogan and Joe Basaraba both making their second AHL appearances of the season, the Rampage were able to control the tempo for much of the game. Yogan had a great rebound goal off of a Ryan Martindale wrist shot in the 2nd period. The 3rd period once again sunk the Rampage however. After 2 Marlies goals and a failed Mark Mancari penalty shot, the Rampage fell 3-2.

Apparently sick of losing, the Rampage finally turned in a good performance on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Barons. Dan Ellis showed some impressive goaltending, turning aside 20 of 21 shots, while the defense was on point. Bobby Butler contributed 2 goals to the victory, including an empty-netter, while Garrett Wilson assisted on all 3 Rampage goals.

Overall, the offense is there for the San Antonio Rampage. Bobby Butler (12 points), Shane O’Brien (10 points), Garrett Wilson and Brett Olson (8 points each), are leading the way for the team. There are plenty of other consistent contributors on a nightly basis, such as Drew Shore (7 assists), Steven Kampfer (6 points) and Vincent Trocheck when he returns from the NHL. With only 2 games where the team has scored 1 goal or less, we can safely say that the team should keep producing and staying in games.

The defense has been solid so far, but the team needs more out of them. Shane O’Brien and Steven Kampfer are producing on the offensive end, and this reflects their -5 and -3 respective +/- ratings on the back end. Alex Petrovic and Greg Zanon have remained reliable while Blake Parlett has been one of the better players, contributing both offensively with 6 points, and a +6 rating. Jonathan Racine has absolutely annihilated opposing players all season, racking up a whopping 48 penalty minutes, including a call or two that could have seen him suspended.

The goaltending will continue to be a question mark moving forward. Perhaps giving each Ellis and Houser a string of games will produce some more consistency. As of right now, their goals against averages of 2.75 for Ellis and 3.97 for Houser are well below par and they need greater help from their D-men. Continue to look for game swapping until someone starts to pull away with the starting gig.

Over the next 2 weeks, the Rampage will play 2 games each, against the OKC Barons, the Charlotte Checkers and their in state rivals the Texas Stars. With Rocco Grimaldi being sent back down, and Quinton Howden returning from injury, the Rampage will hopefully find themselves winning the 3rd periods that they have taken for granted over the past 2 weeks.

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