The beloved Rampage face off against perhaps their toughest competition in the Pacific Division tonight with the Ontario Reign and cap off the weekend Sunday vs the Charlotte Checkers. Tuesday's morning game might be their best so far this year and need to carry the momentum through before a busy Midwest trip over Thanksgiving.
- Some scary news from the Avs, Ben Street flew back to Denver with a chest injury. Coach Roy said that it could require surgery and he could be out 3-4 months. Get well soon, Benny.
- Varly has been skating this week and rumors are that he's close to returning which means Calvin should be back in San Antonio soon. Picks relieved Reto Berra the other night against the Leafs and did mop-up duty.
- Patrick Bordeleau returned from suspension Tuesday and played on the 3rd line with Joey Hishon and Troy Bourke. Garrett Meurs was returned to Fort Wayne on Monday.
- Topher Minasi has his first summary of the year including WOWY's. The School Game Corsi report is there too if you want a good laugh. I'm really enjoying his work so far, it's incredibly difficult and explains many things we could only guess at in the past. I highly recommend checking it out.
- Nate & JP's Running With the Herd Live for this week takes a look at Spencer Martin's debut and another solid weekend for the Silver & Black.
- Ryan and Ron did an AvsCast with Andrew Agozzino
- BSN continues the Between Shifts series with Cheryl interviewing Nikita Zadorov
The young goalie situation...
One of my big concerns going into this year was what would happen when Calvin Pickard wasn't playing. Roman Will had one good start last year and quite a few very bad ones. Spencer Martin was coming out of juniors after blowing out his knee in January. Sami Aittokallio either left for or was banished to Finland and would be no help to the Rampage.
Roman Will has had 3 starts, saved 90 out of 104 shots (.865) and crafted a 1-1-1 record. He hasn't played terrible and other than the Texas blowout where the whole team was MIA he's given the Rampage a chance at winning each game.
Spencer Martin has been very good in both games he's started, stopping 68/71 (.958) and winning relatively easily. He's given up just one goal at even strength so far.
With Calvin's return from Colorado on the horizon, the Avs Development staff have some decisions to make. The easy choice is to send Martin back to Ft Wayne for more PT and keep Roman on the Rampage. The Komets have 61 games left and he should get half the starts at least. Some negatives with this plan: The Komets aren't that good and their defense is pretty horrible. They also moved to the Western Conference this year and have a heinous travel schedule, but such is life for a rookie goalie.
The Rampage have 62 games left so we could expect the backup to play maybe 12-15 of those. Here's the decision, is it better developmentally for Martin to play 30 games in the ECHL with a mediocre team or less than half that in the AHL with a good team? It's a tough choice and I honestly don't know the answer to that.
If it sounds like I'm dismissing Roman Will to 3rd in importance here after seeing Martin play a grand total of 2 games, I kind of am and yes, I know that's kind of silly. Regardless of how they both have played, Martin is probably more of a priority, he was drafted in the 3rd round and signed early so it's a safe bet the Avs have some big hopes for him. Roman is a guy they took a flyer on when it looked like Sami wasn't on the same page as the org. He's not that young (a few months younger than Picks) and hasn't progressed a whole lot so far.
What's best for the Avalanche, Rampage and Komets? What's best for Pickard, Will and Martin? It's going to be interesting to look back this summer and see how this all played out.
Recap: More Stars
As is becoming the norm when these teams get together, the Stars outshot the Rampage by a million and lost on Sunday. Spencer Martin made his AHL debut and was rewarded with 47 shots on goal, saving all but one of them. The 1st period started out with 2 quick goals for the Rampage, a PPG for Max Noreau and a slick wrist shot from Chris Bigras. Afterwards the Stars spent the rest of the period peppering Martin with shots but getting no glory. The 2nd period was unwatchable and played almost exclusively in the San Antonio zone save for a flurry at the end. Texas scored their only goal of the game on the power play early after a Mason Geertsen slash. The 3rd was a fairly even back-and-forth affair until Michael Schumacher put one in with 3 minutes to go following a crafty steal by Trevor Cheek. Texas immediately pulled the goalie but couldn’t solve young Spencer at 6v5 either.
Spencer Martin received a second straight start on Tuesday for the School Day game and once again beat the Stars, this time in a major shellacking 5-2, and it wasn't that close. The Rampage controlled play early and ended up getting a goal from Duncan Siemens to open the scoring, Duncan had a crafty keep-in then Mikko took over for a while finally passing it to Duncan at the point and in, and took a 1-0 lead to 1st Int. The 2nd period was fantastic, best period I've seen the Rampage play. The outshot the Stars 15-7 (and again, it wasn't that close) and outscored them 4-0. Agozzino scored early, Schumacher and Cliche scored back-to-back 20 seconds apart and Reid Petryk finished the period and Jack Campbell off with a shortie.
We all hate the turdle, but what else can you do in this situation? SA and TX play 9 more times this year, you can't just go out there and keep killing them. I have no issue with playing solid D and letting time finish the game off when it's 5-0. I'll give some shout-outs to Martin, Siemens and Rantanen. Spencer Martin was very good once again, saving 22 of a paltry 24 SOG. Duncan got his first goal of the year and played a lot in the second half of the game after Mat Clark disappeared to the dressing room. Mikko had 3 assists and continues to impress.
Preview: Ontario & Charlotte
The Rampage (9-1-4) blew two 3rd period leads to the Reign (8-2-2) when they visited South California last month but Ben Street scored OT goals on back-to-back night to get the Rampage 4 points. Ontario is very stingy, giving up slightly more that a goal and a half per game but don't score that much either (2.75/gm). With San Antonio scoring 3.5 per game it's a good clash of strengths.
The Checkers (7-7-0) are the first team below the playoff line and started the season with a 10-game road trip going 6-4 but have struggled at home in their last 4. The ageless Drew McIntyre is their goalie and he's been a little rough so far. This is a prime candidate for a letdown game so SAR need to keep sharp especially if they beat Ontario on Friday.
Lines from Tuesday's game:
Scratched: Mason, Mags
Mat Clark left the game in the 2nd and did not return. Joey Hishon also missed most of the 3rd period. It was a blowout so maybe they were just being cautious but something to keep an eye on.
Rampage vs Ontario Friday 8:30pm ET
Rampage vs Charlotte Sunday 5:00pm ET
All games on Ticket 760
Standings - Rampage sit atop the WC and Pacific with a 9-1-4 record
Tuesday/Wednesday at Milwaukee & Rockford
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Neither game conflicts with the Avs so stop by and support your prospects. Enjoy!