Record-breaking crowds witness historic 2010-11 Rampage season

The Rampage end the 2010-11 season with the second-best record in franchise history, however the biggest assist came from the fans, helping the Rampage enjoy their most successful season off the ice. Rampage fans packed the AT&T Center shattering previous records and finishing the year ranked seventh in the league in attendance averaging 6,411 per game, an increase of 1,185 per game from 2009-10, including the largest crowd ever to attend a Rampage game on Jan. 28 as 14,339 fans celebrated Pink in the Rink Night. The Rampage also raised a franchise record $80,108 from jersey auctions to benefit local charities including Operation Comfort, Komen San Antonio, Jr. Rampage and Alamo Area Fire and Police Memorial.

The Phoenix Coyotes, San Antonio’s NHL parent club, selected their roster at the conclusion of training camp and by the beginning of October the Rampage were handed young potential to develop as they set their roster featuring nine NHL first-round draft picks and four NHL second-round draft picks that donned Rampage sweaters throughout the course of the year.

With only 13 players returning from the previous season, the San Antonio bench was furnished with new talent and faces as Rampage head coach Ray Edwards led the way along with assistant coaches Jeff Truitt and Brian Pellerin.

The Rampage set the tone for the 2010-11 season with a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Wolves, in front of the second-largest opening day crowd of 8,043 fans at the AT&T Center. The win improved San Antonio’s record to 7-2-0-0 in home openers and 6-3-0-0 in season openers since their inception in 2002. Right wing Matt Beaudoin tallied an AHL opening day-best two goals and two assists to put him on pace to become the team’s leading scorer.

The wins kept rolling for the 2010-11 Rampage after opening day as they posted their best November in franchise history at 8-4-0-0 and became a force in the West Division claiming the number one seed mid-way through the month. A big credit to this feat was the team rattling off seven consecutive wins from November 9 to November 26 to tie a franchise high. In that time, the Rampage outscored their opponents by a mark of 27-14.

The Rampage began the month of December with a five-game road trip where they catalogued an impressive 4-1-0-0 record. Apart from the tallies in the win column, an area that was highlighted on this trip was San Antonio’s ability to convert on the power play. In those five games, they scored six power-play goals on 20 attempts for a 30.0% success rate which proved to be a foreshadowing of the success that special teams would produce this season. The silver and black also raced to their fastest 20 wins in franchise history reaching that milestone before Christmas.

As the calendar year turned, San Antonio entered January with a 23-10-1-0 record as they maintained the number one seed in the West Division. However, three straight losses to commence the New Year halted the Rampage’s streak and after 57 days of holding the title, San Antonio relinquished their top spot in the standings as they ended the month 6-8-1-0. The Rampage spent 72 days atop the Western Conference at various times spanning from Oct. 30, 2010 - Feb. 9, 2011.

The Rampage ended the month of January with a 4-1 win over the Chicago Wolves in front of the largest crowd in franchise history as 14,339 fans witnessed the AT&T Center ice dyed pink for the first time in celebration of Pink in the Rink Night on Jan. 28.

On January 31, the AHL held its annual All-Star game in Hershey, Penn. where Brett MacLean and Mathieu Beaudoin participated in the festivities marking the first time in franchise history that two players were selected to represent San Antonio. Garrett Stafford was originally slated to attend the mid-season festivities and was the first Rampage player to be nominated as a starter; however, an injury sidelined him and allowed Beaudoin to take his spot.

Accompanying the month of February was the Rampage’s annual rodeo road trip where they recorded eight standings points after assembling a 4-5-0-0 record in the 22-day journey away from the Alamo City that extended 10,710 miles and included stops in Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Manitoba, Syracuse, Hamilton and Toronto. The Rampage returned home to post a 3-2 shootout win over the Texas Stars for their 8th annual Military Appreciation Night, which brought in the second-largest crowd in franchise history of 10,447 fans.

With March came the 2011 NHL trade deadline which sent Coyotes skaters Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto packing as Phoenix received Rostislav Klesla and Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Coyotes sent Byers to the Alamo City where he proved to be an asset to San Antonio’s front line.

 Even with the new addition, the team could not overcome the revolving door with Phoenix that sent the Rampage’s top scorers to the desert and left constant roster changes and a scoring lull sending the team to plunge to a 4-7-1-3 record for the month. Despite these shortcomings, the team fought hard as half of the 15 games for March were only decided by one goal and the Rampage’s penalty killing exerted exceptional effort after only allowing eight goals in 74 opportunities for an 89.1% success rate.

The Rampage headed into April, the final month of the regular season, in the thick of the playoff hunt as the jumbled Western Conference standings were open for anyone to grab. San Antonio went 2-3-1-0 in the final six games of the season and narrowly missed an invitation to the big dance for the Calder Cup. The Rampage ended the season on a high note as goaltender Joe Fallon produced his first shutout of the year with a 1-0 victory over the Texas Stars.

The 40-33-4-3 record and 87 points sustained as the Rampage’s second-best record in the club’s nine-year span. The Rampage generated the second-most wins (40), tied for the second-highest point total (87) and also tied for the most home wins in a season (23) in franchise history. The Rampage set a new franchise record for most goals scored in a road game after tallying seven in a 7-5 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on January 21 at the Bradley Center.

There are several areas of note that San Antonio excelled in by either breaking franchise records or by leading the AHL ranks during the 2010-11 season. After going 6-0 in shootouts to start the year, the Rampage finished the season with a 7-3 record in shootouts with seven wins tying a franchise best. The silver and black ranked second in both shootouts for and against in the league after scoring 20 goals on 47 attempts for a .426 success rate and only allowing 11 of 47 attempts.

Special teams prospered for the second consecutive season as the Rampage finished the year with the best power-play percentage in franchise history and the second-best in the AHL at 21.2%, which included 72 power-play goals to set a new franchise record. Their strong road power-play ability garnered San Antonio with the best away power-play percentage in the league (24.8%). Meanwhile, the penalty kill skyrocketed at the end of the season earning the team the fourth-best home penalty kill in the league at 86.0%.

Edwards was able to guide several of his players (Brett MacLean, Matt Climie, Alex Picard, Matt Watkins, Bracken Kearns, Matt Beaudoin and Garrett Stafford) to new heights as they established new career and AHL personal bests.

In the second annual Lone Star Faceoff challenge, San Antonio notched an 8-8-3-1 record good for 20 points in the standings. Houston claimed the lead with 30 points (15-6-0-0) and Texas finished in second with 21 points (8-8-2-3).

Leading the way for San Antonio in 2010-11 were forwards Brett MacLean, Mikkel Boedker, Matt Beaudoin, Alex Picard, Viktor Tikhonov and Matt Watkins and defenseman Garrett Stafford and goaltender Matt Climie.

MacLean, a 22-year-old right wing, became the face of the Rampage organization after breaking nearly every offensive record in the book. He set the new franchise record for games played (201), goals (74), power-play goals (31), assists (81) and points (155). MacLean enjoyed his third 20+ goal season with San Antonio for another franchise-high honor. He recorded his first professional hat trick on Feb. 18 at Syracuse and when he received his first call-up to the NHL he scored a goal on his first shot on net.

Boedker, the 21-year-old eighth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, provided an offensive spark tallying 34 points (12g, 22a) in 36 games with San Antonio which included 11 multiple-point contests. Boedker was flawless in shootouts netting all four attempts as his four shootout-winning goals led the AHL.

Beaudoin, a 27-year-old right wing and Rock Forest, Quebec native had a breakout season where he supplied an AHL career-best and team-leading 51 points on 21 goals and 30 assists. Beaudoin posted two four-point nights and tallied an eight-game point streak from October 16 to October 29, which were both season highs for the Rampage.

Picard, a 25-year-old left wing, collected the best numbers of his professional career in goals (24), assists (22) and points (46). His 24 goals and 11 power-play goals led the 2010-11 Rampage team.

Tikhonov, the 22-year-old right wing and Riga, Latvia native posted a career-high point total at 33 (10g, 23a) in 60 games with San Antonio this season. He strung together a six-game assist streak from October 17 to October 29 that tied a franchise high.

Watkins, the 24-year-old right wing, experienced great success with the Rampage establishing professional bests in goals (15), assists (20) and points (35). Watkins recorded his first professional hat trick on December 29 versus Oklahoma City becoming the 10th player in team history to accomplish this feat.

Stafford, a 31-year-old veteran and native of Los Angeles, Calif., set a new franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a season (14). Stafford amassed 29 power-play points for the fourth most among AHL blue liners while his 22 power-play assists are tied for fifth among defensemen in the league.

Byers, a 25-year-old native of Nipawin, Saskatchewan, skated with three separate AHL teams during the 2010-11 season which allowed him to set an AHL record for most games played in a regular season. His 85 games broke the previous record of 83 games set during the 1995-96 season by Cornwall/St. John player Paxton Schulte.

Climie, the 28-year-old goaltender, had a standout season after establishing career-bests in wins (26) and saves (1,407). His 26 victories tie a franchise high while his 1,407 saves and 3,040 minutes rank fourth in the league for netminders. Climie also posted six shootout wins during the 2010-11 season. The Leduc, Alberta native recorded three shutouts and a five-game winning streak from October 17 to October 29.

In addition to their celebrated season on the ice, the Rampage also found great success off the ice. The Rampage participated in their second annual Faceoff Against Kids Cancer program which matches a player with a child cancer patient from Centers of Oncology and Blood Disorders at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital. Through the program, many of the Rampage players forged lasting bonds with their respective buddies at various social events including a pizza and board game party, a night at the rodeo and a day of go-kart riding, bowling and arcade games at the Incredible Pizza Company. Rampage enforcer Eric Neilson earned the team’s Man of the Year Award for his community efforts, in particular his involvement with the Jr. Rampage.

The Rampage organization also held a number of successful promotions including special theme nights such as Hispanic Heritage Weekend where fans heard the sounds of Grammy Award-winning band Los Texmaniacs, Pucks & Paws Night which placed over 1,000 dogs in the stands, and the Rampage’s first-ever Cool School Day Game where local schools took a field trip to a game to educate the youth about hockey. The Rampage also continued with their most popular promotion, KISS Rocks $1 Drink Night, averaging 7,780 fans every Friday night and each Sunday fans enjoyed all-you-can-eat packages and a complimentary pregame skate.

By the end of the season, the AT&T Center had recorded 256,433 fans that walked through its gates to witness a Rampage game which set a new season attendance record.

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