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From the Rampage Desk: Week 12 - Dealing with Loss

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The beloved Rampage showed signs of getting out of their recent funk, ending the 7-game losing streak with a pair of wins over hapless Iowa. Unfortunately they now play Texas 3 out of the next 4 days in a battle for the 3rd and final playoff position in the Pacific Division.

News

- Reto Berra injured his ankle pre-game against Toronto and will be out for a couple weeks. Calvin Pickard was called up to the Avs for backup duty.

- To offset Calvin's callup, the Rampage get Spencer Martin from the Komets for a spell.

- Fears that Nate Guenin's head injury would necessitate the Avs calling up a defenseman to replace him seem to be allayed at this point. Guenin should be available soon if not immediately so the Rampage defense as it stands will remain intact.

- In case you haven't heard, Mikko Rantanen is in Finland for the World Junior Championships and has been named captain of the Finns. We will probably see him next for the long California road trip that begins on January 8th in Bakersfield.

- Nick Drazenovic signed a PTO with San Antonio last week and made his Rampage debut on Monday. Started out on the 4th line but got time on the the 2nd PP unit and a few shifts with the skill guys. I would not be surprised to see him in the top-6 consistently as time goes by. Drazenovic joins Troy Bourke as fellow PG Cougars alumni and he had been practicing in Prince George after undergoing neck surgery last season.

- Duncan Siemens returned from his hand injury on Monday and looked excellent against the Wild. Gabe Beaupre was sent back to Ft Wayne on Friday and scored in his first game back.

Injury Report

- Andrew Agozzino injured his foot blocking a shot in the first Iowa game. The word is that a bone was broken but he was supposed to have more tests done in SA after the trip. Probably will not see him until February.

- M-A Cliche continues to battle UBI (suspected concussion) and has not been skating with the team.

- Max Noreau was on the trip to Winny/Des Moines but did not play. Like many others he has UBI but this at least allows him to keep his skating legs while convalescing. No word on when he'll be back.

- As of right now, the Rampage have 12 healthy forwards and 7 healthy D so I would guess this means no more callups are coming until something changes either in San Antonio or Colorado.

Recap: Iowa

Amazing what eking out a win against the worst club in the AHL can do for you. The Rampage beat Iowa 3-2 Sunday afternoon, breaking the 7-game losing streak and sliding past Texas for 3rd in the Pacific and a playoff spot. It wasn’t pretty by any means, the Rampage got called for 5 straight penalties without a single call on Iowa and besides not having Cliche, Noreau & Duncan they lost Andrew Agozzino in the 1st after blocking a shot off his ankle. They gritted it out with some great performances from Colin Smith, Zadorov and even Roman Will in a rare appearance, but just about everyone had a good game.

Besides the goals from Smith and Zadorov, it was nice to see some depth scoring for a change. Reid Petryk had a nice goal to tie the game up in the 2nd. Lots of depth assists as well from guys like Corbs, Mase and Borna.

In a rare AHL Monday game, the Rampage got reinforcements both on defense and at forward. Duncan Siemens returned to the lineup after missing time with a hand injury and PTO center Nick Drazenovic made his first San Antonio start.

The Wilds opened the scoring with 5 seconds left in the 1st when Z passed the puck up the wall to Bordy, who just let the puck bounce off him right to a player in the slot all alone who promptly blasted it past Pickard. Thankfully that was the only goal for the bad guys. Dennis Everberg tied the game up early in the 2nd by putting in a rebound off a Bordeleau shot. On an Iowa PP early in the 3rd, Mikko stole the puck from a cartwheeling Wild D, took a lap around the net and fed Smitty for a beautiful go-ahead score. A soporific 18 minutes later the Rampage had their 2nd consecutive win.

Preview: Texas x3

While the 2 wins in Iowa are nice, they also were against an absolutely terrible hockey team. Since that time, the Rampage have sent their starting goalie and top scorer packing and now face a Texas squad that scores prolifically but also has terrible defense and goaltending. I guess the best hope is to play the next 3 games even points-wise. Saying that getting Max Noreau back would help would be an understatement.

Maybe I'm searching for a silver lining, but the fantastically boring hockey the Rampage played against Iowa reminded me of the Avs earlier this year when they made a major systemic change and started to play much better defense for the first time in years. I don't know what options Dean & Randy have for tactical upgrades, they already trap/counterattack and have an aggressive forecheck when things are working properly, but with all the injuries and callups they can't out-talent anyone for the foreseeable future. They have to make changes in how the team plays on the ice if we're to see improvement. More discipline would be fantastic, perhaps just playing the systems they already have in place in a professional manner would be enough to get them through until we get Aggz/Cliche/Street back from injury later in the year.

Obviously the lineup will look quite a bit different tonight but here's what we saw last Monday:

Mikko/Smitty/Borna
Evs/Hish/Pete
Schumi/Sam/Bordy
Cheek/Drazenovic/Bourke

Bigras/Clark
Duncan/Hubie
Z/Corbs

Picks
Will

Scratched: Mason, Maggio
Injured: Aggz (LBI/foot), Noreau (UBI), Cliche (UBI/head)

Schedule

Saturday at Texas 8pm in the ET

Sunday vs Texas 5pm in the ET

Tuesday at Texas 8pm in the ET

All games on Ticket 760

Links

Stats

Standings

Preview

Next up

A pair at home vs San Diego next weekend

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None of these games conflict with the Avs so stop by and support your prospects, enjoy!