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Rampage look to continue hot start on ice against West coast squads

San Antonio Rampage take on San Jose, San Diego this weekend

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s AHL hockey team started its 2017 season on a Rampage.

With the 5-1 start, the team is currently ranked first in the Pacific Division and second overall in the AHL, after sweeping its rivals from up the road, the Texas Stars.

The Rampage swept the Texas Stars during a three-game series last week.

Joe Colborne and Rocco Grimaldi’s shootout tallies brought the Rampage to a 3-2 shootout win last Friday at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park.

Last Saturday, they scored five goals in the second period which led them to another win, 6-2, over the Stars.

And they finished their sweep of the Stars on Sunday at the AT&T Center with a 3-1 victory.

Defensive player Jordan Schmaltz says he can’t complain about their fast start.

“We need to keep playing and can’t get away from things we’re doing well right now,” Schmaltz said.

Head coach Eric Vellieux also was happy about the sweep of their rivals.

“I think our plays get more detailed as the season goes on and that’s very important,” Vellieux said.

After playing five games on the road, the Rampage are happy to be back in action this Friday taking on the San Jose Barracudas (3-3). 

“Anytime you get back home and play in front of your fans it makes it that much more special,” Schmaltz said.

The Barracudas are coming off of a two-game series against the Cleveland Monsters. The Barracudas fell to Cleveland 4-1 in the first game, but won game two in overtime 1-0. 

The Barracudas and the Rampage have already met once this season in San Jose. 

“I thought we played a pretty good game (against San Jose) so we’ll try to get some clips of good things we did and hopefully have a good start of the game on Friday,” Vellieux said.

And a good game it was indeed. Barracuda’s Centre Alexander True, who is in his first professional season, scored his first goal against the Rampage to begin the match. 

But San Antonio answered back with a goal from Grimaldi, which tied the game at 1-1.  San Jose led 2-1 going into the second period but the Rampage rallied and took the win, 3-2.

The home action won’t stop after Friday for the Rampage. They also play at the AT&T Center on Saturday against the San Diego Gulls. 

March 2017 marked the last meeting of the two teams and it was a doozy for San Antonio.

They were leading by two at the start of the third period but San Diego was relentless.

The Gulls’ Corey Tropp registered a power play goal with 9:28 remaining. And as the clock kept ticking, the Gulls kept fighting and eventually landed another goal to tie the game. 

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Overtime was scoreless for a period, and in the fourth round of the shootout, San Diego's Max Gortz scored. San Diego took the victory over the Rampage 4-3.

The Gull’s are coming off a big 4-3 win over the Stockton Heat on the road.

Being an AHL team, it’s common for the Rampage roster to change as players move up and down between the Colorado Avalanche.

Beginning next year, the Rampage will also send players back and forth to St. Louis.

But even with the constant moving of players, the Rampage know it’s no excuse and they always need to be ready to play on game day.

“We lost a couple of guys Sunday but games like that (versus Texas Stars) you need to come up with wins even a little short-handed,” Schmaltz explained.

The Rampage currently has 24 players on its roster for the upcoming games between San Diego and San Jose.

Last year, San Antonio started off 0-4 and finished the season 27-42, and did not make the playoffs.

So it’s safe to say this year the winning start has been a big confidence boost for the team.

“It’s important for us to concentrate on out play now, and yes we will pre-scout other teams," Vellieux said. "But at the end of the day, what’s important most is how we wanna play. We do have a pretty good progression regarding to our system. We just need to keep improving.”

Catch the battle of all the “Sans” at the AT&T Center Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m.