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The hockey community is unbelievably small, but we usually don’t realize it until tragedy strikes. Last night many of us in Rampage nation lost a good friend. Jessica Ghawi (better known by her professional name “Jessica Redfield”) was one of several victims in the Colorado movie theater tragedy. I first met Jessica two years ago when she was an intern for Mike Taylor’s afternoon show on Ticket 760. Former Rampage Media Relations Manager Katie Krause had set-up a friendly wager between Chris Summers (Michigan) and Mathieu Beaudoin (Ohio State) on the out-come of the annual Buckeyes-Wolverines football clash where the loser would have to do a lip-synch to Justin Bieber on camera. Jessica was an aspiring broadcaster, so Mike Taylor allowed her to do the interview and set up the bit. What transpired was one of the funniest 15 minutes I’ve witnessed in my hockey career as this young woman had the courage to come out on the ice in 6-inch heels and attempt to shoot the video. Needless to say, she was on the ice on her backside about as much as she was standing up! But Jessica was a professional and even in the face of eternal YouTube embarrassment, she got through the interview and put together what was one of the more widely viewed Rampage segments in my time in San Antonio. We often chatted about her career goals and where she wanted to end up. She once told me that her dream was to work as a pit reporter in the NASCAR circuit, and I told her I thought she would be perfect for that. Before Jessica left for Denver to continue pursuing her career as a broadcaster, she was a fixture at many Rampage games and touched the lives of several fans and season ticket holders. She wrote for Nathan Mallet’s Rampage blog “Runnin’ With The Herd”. She befriended Tina Smith’s family and their son Reid, who was undergoing treatment for a rare form of pediatric cancer and participated in our “Face-Off Against Kids Cancer” program. But Jessica was also a hockey fan, and as hockey fans we tend to stick together through just about everything. I am terribly saddened by Jessica’s passing, and I send my condolences to all her family and friends and offer a stick tap in her memory.
Kudos to Rampage coaches Chuck Weber and Jason Cipolla who received much deserved contract extensions this week. The duo helped the Rampage bounce back from a tough start to the year and did a masterful job navigating through a series of injuries and call-ups to clinch a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. Weber and Cipolla also helped veteran players like Bracken Kearns and Greg Rallo finally achieve their dream of playing in the National Hockey League. For Weber, the contract was just the beginning of a great week. The Rampage bench boss is getting married Saturday back in Cincinnati, and we here at “Views From The Press Box” would like to pass along a congratulations to him and his fiancée Angie, and wish them both a lifetime of happiness.
The Panthers announced the signings of restricted free agents James Wright, Michael Caruso, and goalie Brian Foster this week. For his efforts following the trade from Tampa, Wright received a two-year contract with the second year being a one-way NHL deal according to the popular contract website Capgeek.com. Wright tallied 11 goals and 28 points in 54 games with the Rampage, and excelled during the post-season with three goals and seven points in 10 games. His versatility and ability to play either center or wing and on all four lines makes Wright an attractive commodity, not to mention the fact that he's only 22 and now has three seasons under his belt. Eric Selleck remains the last unsigned Rampage restricted free agent.