More than five months have gone by since the Rampage suited up for a game. That’ll change on Saturday when the Silver and Black square off against the Texas Stars at Cedar Park Center.
With such a lengthy summer, the Rampage players have been counting down the days until being able to test themselves in a setting where their opponent isn’t wearing similar colors.
While this weekend’s two-game series against Oklahoma City and Texas are only preseason tilts, there are still roster spots to be won and impression to be made.
“The games this weekend are exciting because it revs up the intensity and it becomes real for our guys,” said Rampage head coach Peter Horachek. “There are some battle skills and you’re going to play a little harder.
“Sometimes in practice you are playing in situations and the play ends. In the real game, it continues and you have to work all the way through it. I think it’s good to see us at that level to see where we are and see where some guys are and see whether or not they’re ready to start here.”
There will be plenty of familiar faces on the ice on Saturday and Sunday when the Rampage square off against the Barons and Stars. Last season, the Rampage squared off against both teams 12 times.
And with the Rampage posting a combined 6-15-0-3 record in 24 contests against their divisional-foes, the Silver and Black are hoping to get the ball rolling in the right direction leading up to Opening Night at AT&T Center on Oct. 4 against the Chicago Wolves.
“It’s been a long time coming over the summer,” said Rampage forward Jared Gomes. “It’s a long offseason. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get back out there and start playing in some really competitive situations.”
Horachek said he’s seen good leadership from the veterans thorough the first five days of camp and expects them to keep up the energy and set the tone in Cedar Park this weekend.
“The guys are really getting along,” Horachek said. “There’s good leadership here. There’s a number of guys who are good leaders and good in the room, guys like Caruso, Ortmeyer, Zanon, and Rallo. They drive practice and there’s a smile on their face. When you’re having a good time working hard, then things are good. We’re making the right progress.”
Defenseman Alex Petrovic said Horachek’s new systems have started to settle in throughout the week.
“We’ve been going through a lot of video and stuff with systems,” Petrovic said. “Today I thought we took some big strides. Everyone knew what they were doing out there and everyone looks like they’re playing well together.”
As much as the team is starting to gel, they’re looking to see how they react when heading on the road to face an unfriendly opponent.
“Obviously coming off summer, everyone is a little rusty,” said defenseman John Lee. “It’ll be good to get back into the swing of things and get into the games.
“Summer is really long. We’re ready to get back at it.”
Training Camp Updates:
Day 4, Thursday, Sept. 26
Day 3, Wednesday, Sept. 25
Day 2, Tuesday, Sept. 24
Day 1, Monday, Sept. 23