The San Antonio Rampage are ready to take on the season. New players are being drafted and learning the ropes, while veteran players are honing their skills. The new players are fighting for a place on the team. So far, their teammates have not been disappointed. The new players include defensemen Alex Petrovic and Jason DeSantis. New forwards joining the ranks include Andre Deveaux, Quinton Howden, Jean-Francois Jacques, John McFarland, Drew Shore and Casey Wellman.
“We have a bunch of new guys here, so I can’t wait to see them play in a game; they are looking really good,” goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom said.
The main goal of the season is to get the team connected and comfortable with each other, as well as with the dynamics of the team.
“With any new players coming into any organization, you always want to make a good first impression,” defenseman Nolan Yonkman said. “Once they’re settled into the city, just bring to the table what the rules are. Don’t try to do too much too early…Do what they do well essentially.”
The Rampage will be armed with a stronger offense this season. While the focus is on perfecting systems, the offense is aiming to be more aggressive and include more plays than last season. “Our team’s going to be more involved in our offense section and better with plays down low. Last year we were more of an open ice team…offense off the rush because of our size. This year, we’re going to do more on our low plays; we’ll be bigger,” Coach Chuck Weber said.
While the Rampage looks forward to facing off with other teams throughout the season, the Oklahoma City Barons seem to be the strongest contender.
“It doesn’t really matter who we play,” Markstrom said. “Whoever is on the schedule, we play and hopefully we win. Everything’s hard right now; obviously, Oklahoma’s going to be a good team. You don’t know how they’re going to play as a team; it’s too early to say who’s going to be good, or not so good. Last year all the teams were good.”
With any team, it’s not only a matter of how well your team performs, but also a matter of how well the other team performs that determines the outcome of the game. As Yonkman put it, “It’s always a rivalry within our division…Austin, Houston and I think Oklahoma City because they beat us up last year in the playoffs. I think those are the three teams we look forward to playing and definitely beating.”
To get them mentality prepared, the team goes out on the ice and gives it all they can.
“Once they get comfortable and established and in a new team, instincts are going to take over and I think they’re excited to get into the routine here and get acclimated,” Yonkman said.
For the new players, as well as team veterans, getting mentally prepared and keeping a steady pace is key.
“From day one we set the tone; we set a good pace for ourselves. We are off to a really strong start this season,” Yonkman said. “We get a good start every day; we are working on systems wide.”
“We are all getting used to playing with each other. The new players this season are learning the instincts of other players and are learning the new system,” Yonkman continued. “The most important thing is to start good every day, learn and get up to Rampage hockey.”
So far, training is going well. The players are showing great promise and potential. Coach Weber believes that many of his players may very well have a future with the NHL.
“If you look at the group out there, pretty much any one you see on the ice has a chance in the National Hockey League. For some of the guys, it might be this year, or for others, two or three years down the road, it just depends on how fast they’re developing,” Weber said.
The hope is that the team will stay strong mentally, and that it will come together for an amazing season.
“Right now, they’re tired. This was the first full day of work. The guy’s bonding is fantastic,” Coach Weber said after the Rampage’s first practice on Monday, Oct. 1.
Last year, the San Antonio Rampage played the Texas Stars 12 times in the season. The Stars finished with a record of 41-29-4-6 (92 points) and San Antonio Rampage closed their season with a record of 40-33-4-3 (87 points). This was the second best scoring year for San Antonio Rampage in their 10-year history.
The Rampage will open the 2012-13 season on the road against the Texas Stars on Oct. 13 at Cedar Park Center at 7 p.m. The Rampage will come home to face their I-10 rivals, the Houston Aeros on Oct. 14 at the AT&T Center at 3:30 p.m.