BUSY DAYS AHEAD FOR THE SILVER AND BLACK
The San Antonio Rampage kick off a three-in-three this weekend, starting with back-to-back tilts against the Iowa Wild on Friday and Saturday night (Jan. 24-25). The games will be the fourth and fifth meetings between the two teams this season, with the final game coming on March 16 when the Rampage travel to Iowa for the third time this year to close out the six-game season series.
The three-in-three is the first of its kind for the Rampage this season, though it will occur twice more before the regular season comes to a finish in mid-April. The Rampage are 1-0-0-2 against the Wild this year, with their only win over the former Houston Aeros coming on Nov. 15 in a 5-2 final. Captain Greg Rallo leads all Rampage skaters with two goals and three points across the three games, with defenseman Ryan Whitney adding a goal and two assists in two games, and winger Bobby Butler recording three assists through the season series. All but five Rampage skaters have recorded at least one point against the Wild, and eight players have registered at least one goal. Rallo had his first multi-goal effort of the year in the first tilt against Iowa on Nov. 15, scoring two of the Rampage’s five goals on the night and earning the First Star of the Game.
Despite a 7-3 record in the shootout for the Rampage, Iowa has given them trouble when it comes to the skills competition. Two of the three shootout losses on the year have come at the hands of the Wild, with both Rob Madore and Jacob Markstrom taking defeat in the extra round. Madore stopped 24-of-26 in regulation, and 2-of-7 shooters in the most recent meeting between these teams on Dec. 21, a game that saw the Rampage outshoot the Wild 41-27.
The Rampage will get a small break this time, as Jonathon Blum is currently playing up with Minnesota. The defenseman leads all Wild against the Rampage, with two goals and five points in three games. This is his second recall to the NHL this season, though he has 95 NHL games under his belt, spending the majority of his time with the Nashville organization. In that span, he has seven goals and 22 points.
Friday’s game will be Rampage head coach Tom Rowe’s 350th career AHL game behind the bench.
The Wild began their trip to the Lone Star State with a stop in Cedar Park last night (Wednesday), taking the Stars to the shootout, but eventually falling 4-3. The win was the Stars’ first shootout victory on the season, as only Iowa’s Carson McMillan was able to beat Cristopher Nilstorp in the skills competition.
Sunday’s Express-News Sunday Funday game will be the first glimpse of the 2013 Calder Cup Champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Rampage have seen a lot of Chad Billins, a former Griffins blue liner who won the Cup with them but has spent the 2013-14 AHL season with the Abbotsford Heat.
The Griffins are coming off a six-game home stand, winning four of the six. They will spend Friday and Saturday in Cedar Park, facing off with the Texas Stars for the second time this year, having beaten them on back-to-back nights in Grand Rapids back in November. They currently sit atop the Western Conference with 57 points, tied with Texas.
Though Sunday’s matinee will be the first time this year, the Rampage have had success against the Griffins in the past, going 6-3-0-0 over the last five seasons. In the last meeting between the two, San Antonio ran away with a 4-1 victory at the AT&T Center last March, with Wade Megan opening the scoring with his first professional goal.
D Zach Miskovic traded to Rockford (AHL)
RW Derek Nesbitt acquired from Oklahoma City (AHL)
LW Jack Combs traded to Oklahoma City (AHL)
RW Steve Pinizzotto traded to Edmonton (NHL)
C Ryan Martindale acquired from Edmonton (NHL)
NEXT WEEK FOR THE RAMPAGE
Tuesday, Jan. 28 will feature the second Tweet Up Tuesday of the year. A select Rampage player will be at a local business handing out miscellaneous Rampage prizes and signing autographs. The annual Survivor Skate will also be happening on Tuesday as part of Pink Week at SS&E. The skate runs from 7-9 p.m., and will feature five Rampage players skating with breast cancer survivors and their family members.
The Rampage will travel up to Cedar Park for the fifth time this season and first of the new year for a 7:30 tilt with the Stars on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Of the four games played at CPC so far, the Rampage have come away victorious just once, a 4-3 shootout thriller on Nov. 22.
The final home game before the Rodeo Trip will be a 7:30 p.m. puck drop against the Toronto Marlies on Friday, Jan. 31. The tilt is the annual Pink in the Rink game, and will feature a sheet of pink ice, as well as various giveaways and prizes from sponsors. FOX Sports Southwest will be on hand to broadcast the event, continuing the “Tune In To Win” promotion.