Darren Abate, Rampage Hockey
Six games into the season, the San Antonio Rampage have yet to lose a game in regulation play — their best start in franchise history.
Despite sitting behind ten other teams in points earned, the Rampage currently sit atop both the Pacific Division and the Western Conference, boasting a league-high .917 point percentage.
This season, the order of the standings will be decided by point percentage instead of point totals because the five new Californian teams play slightly fewer games than the rest, which creates a disparity in points available.
The team eased into the season, having played only six games since it started on Saturday, Oct. 10. But they have a busy November ahead, with 14 games to play in 27 days. How they weather this busy month should be a good indicator of what fans can expect out of this team of fresh faces.
The coming month will be a great test for this team’s young players, as they must step up to offset the loss of team captain and leading scorer Ben Street. Street, who is tied for second in league scoring with 12 points in six games, was called up to the NHL on Monday. Since it is unknown when Street will rejoin the Rampage, other players will be called upon to replace his production.
Andrew Agozzino, the team’s leading scorer in Street’s absence, is one of those players. With nine points in four games, he started the season scoring at an even higher pace than Street. After missing two games to injury, Agozzino had a scary-good performance on Halloween, scoring 24 seconds into the game and then assisting on Street’s game-winning overtime goal.
Agozzino is expected to anchor the team’s top line along with rookie Mikko Rantanen, who turned 19 last week. Rantanen was placed into important situations from the moment he suited up for the Rampage, playing on the top line and both special teams units.
Veteran defenseman and Houston native Zach Redmond leads the production from the blue line with three goals and two assists in the first six games. His 17 shots on goal through six games place him second on the team in that category, trailing only Street. Following closely behind in scoring by defensemen is first-year pro Chris Bigras, who has one goal and four points over the same span.
It is likely that Czech backup goalie Roman Will sees his first action of the season this weekend, when the Rampage have 3 games in 3 nights — two home contests against the Chicago Wolves with an away game against the Texas Stars in between on Saturday, Nov. 7.
If Will can perform well in relief of starter Calvin Pickard, November’s condensed schedule will seem less daunting. If Will struggles, it will hinder Pickard’s ability to rest.
Seven of the team’s games in November will be played at the AT&T center, and all but one of those home games fall on either a Friday or a Sunday. Hometown fans will have plenty of opportunities to see the team in action this month.
Although the season is still young, this stretch of games will be the new-look Rampage team’s first big test. Combine the pressure to stay at the top with the team’s eagerness to impress its hometown fans, and there will be plenty of high-stakes hockey played at the AT&T Center this month.