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From the Rampage Desk: Week 18 - Last Home Game for a Looooooong Time

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John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The beloved Rampage play their final game at the AT&T Center for a month on Friday night against Texas. The Rodeo Road Trip starts on Saturday night in nearby Cedar Park, but they will go far and wide before coming home again. Charlotte, Northern California, Cleveland, back to California again...

News

- Trevor Cheek was sent down to the Komets over the weekend, Cody Corbett joined him on Sunday.

- Defenseman Justin Hamonic was called up from Ft Wayne on Tuesday, he is on a 2-way A/EC contract this year. The 6'4 210# rookie out of Tri-City in the WHL has a goal and 4 assists in 39 games for the Komets.

- C Alex Belzile was returned to Ft Wayne on Thursday afternoon

- Forward Troy Bourke was reassigned to the Komets on Thursday as well

- Roman Will was called up to Colorado again on Tuesday to back up Calvin Pickard but was returned on Wednesday. Our good friends from the Rampage site had a nice write-up on his short time with the Avs.

- Tonight's game will feature Pink the Rink jerseys that will be auctioned off post-game, pretty sharp!

Injury Report

Center Joey Hishon is healthy once again leaving only Agozzino and Street on the list

Trevor Cheek had missed the last few games but got healthy and packed his bags for Indiana. Troy Bourke followed suit yesterday.

Ben Street is supposed to go to Denver on Tuesday for a check-up with the Avs doctors. If he gets the all-clear we could see him skating soon and back in the ice sometime on the Rodeo Road Trip. Wishful thinking I know, but it could happen.

Doesn't sound like Reto Berra's ankle rehab is going smoothly. At this point I'd be surprised if we ever see Pickard in San Antonio again. If/when Yogi gets healthy, he might be our man for the end of the season.

Komets

Now that we have a few bona fide prospects in Ft Wayne, I'll be ramping up the coverage of the brother Komets. To recap: Bourke, Geertsen, Corbett, Cheek, Meurs, Beaupre [Avs contracts], Belzile, Brock Montgomery, Will Weber [Rampage contracts] are all there.

- Mason Geertsen scored the game-winning goal on Sunday at Kalamazoo.

- Trevor Cheek scored in all 3 games since being reassigned on Saturday and has 8G/4A in 12 games this year

- Cody Corbett had an assist against Brampton Tuesday in his 1st game back

- Garrett Meurs got a kneeing major Sunday and was suspended by the league for 2 games. He has 20 pts in 32 games.

- Gabe Beaupre was injured a couple weeks ago and is on IR

Blake Sebring's weekly Komets show on WANE-TV - Inside the Zone - talks about the Komets Kelly Cup chances

Obviously having a healthy roster for the first time in months necessitates some player movement. The Rampage have sent down or returned 5 players recently while only picking one up. This is a change from earlier in the year and a big one from last year. The ECHL has roster limits and a salary cap while the AHL does not so the A is usually the default spot to stash guys in the org in times of plenty.

A couple things had to have happened for this change of strategy to be implemented. a) The Avs/Rampage staff saw some youngsters that are stagnating due to lack of PT or poor fit in the roles they were put in. b) The Avs org is fine with paying for the inevitable increase in travel/living expenses to shuttle these guys to and fro in the coming weeks. c) The Komets were ok with taking on a large number of new players even though they could be called up at any time and even though the Komets are playing extremely well while sporting the 2nd best record in the Western Conference.

What I'm really interested in is how Troy Bourke is used with the Komets. Bourke was a scorer in the WHL and a good one. Since turning pro his production has tailed off massively, mainly because he's been used in a bottom-6 grinder role and hasn't been able to stick in the top-6 when given a chance. He had 7 points in 15 games on his ATO, 22 points in 61 games last year and a frustratingly low 8 points in 39 games so far this season. I think learning to be defensively responsible made him much better as a player but if he's going to progress beyond AHL 3rd-liner level it's because of his ability to generate scoring chances and put up points. He should thrive in a scoring role with Ft Wayne and get his offensive skills back where they should be.

Recap: San Jose

On Friday, the Rampage gave up a goal off a faceoff early but Dennis Everberg scored 2 within 3 minutes late in the 1st and the good guys held on for a 2-1 win. I really liked the first 2 periods, the ended up controlling play and getting 15 shots on goal in each frame, and even with a bit of a turdle the 3rd wasn’t horrible. The refs called a weird game, SA had 5 power plays in the 2nd and the Cudas had 4 in the 3rd so there wasn’t a lot of flow to the game. Reid Petryk continued his torrid play with primary assists on both goals, he now has 18 points in his last 18 games and sits tied for 4th in scoring on the team. Mikko is now +21, which is impressive considering the next closest guy is Evs at +6.

Saturday night Brandon Gormley scored his first goal since joining the team 21 seconds into the game and a few minutes later M-A Cliche put in a rebound off a Duncan Siemens shot for a 2-0 lead. Sounds pretty good, eh? Unfortunately it all went rapidly downhill from there. The Rampage had 3 shots on goal in the next 25 minutes and special teams killed them all night. The PP got blanked and the PK could only save 1 out of 4 chances. Nick Drazenovic also scored his first goal for the Rampage in garbage time but the Cudas held on for a 4-3 win.

Gormley and Clark, by my eye test the top minute players on D, really struggled getting the puck out of the zone. The other pairs weren’t great either and part of that, maybe a lot of that, is on the forwards. It’s pretty obvious the book on San Antonio is to forecheck the hell out of the D and they’ll never be able to clear the puck. Time after time I see opponents pressuring the Ds deep in the zone while the forwards are not in position to provide support. There’s always one forward, usually motionless and totally covered, 10 feet in from the blueline waiting for a pass that can’t be completed. There are plenty of ways to fix that, let’s hope they pick one soon.

The Rampage’s own forecheck was MIA again for most of the game. When they struggle, I always see them falling back into the soft and ineffective 1-2-2 that’s an open invitation to skate the puck right up the boards and into the zone uncontested. Optimally you want a good forecheck that slides into some sort of 1-3-1 clog at the very least. If you do neither, you’re never going to have the puck when it matters and that’s been the case for the last couple of months.

Preview: Texas

With 10 of 14 games against Texas in the books the Rampage sit at 4-4-2. Most recently they lost 6-1 where Spencer Martin didn't have it early and Roman really didn't either. Other than that it was a fairly even game. We'll see how it goes, I'd really like to see Marty get a start and play well in one of these just for confidence's sake but it's understandable if Dean rides Roman for most of the games this month. The only 3-in-3 is at the end of the trip.

Lines/Pairs from Saturday:

Evs – Mikko – Pete
Thompson – Clish – Smitty
Schumi – Draz – Borna
Big Sam – Bells – Bordy

Gormley – Clark
Z – Max
Duncan – Hubie

Roman
Marty

Scratched: Mags, Corbs
Injured: Hish, Bourke, Aggz

While Mikko's center experiment wasn't terrible, I would be surprised if it continues. Hish will be back in the lineup, most likely centering one of the top-6 lines. Justin Hamonic replaces Corbett as 7th defenseman, we'll have to see if this is just a warm-body deal or if they called him up to play. He's a righty and although I've never seen him play he can't be much worse than Labrie. Something needs to be done about the Gormley-Clark pair too, it's been tragic. With all the re-assignments the Rampage have only one forward and one defenseman as substitutes. We'll see how long that lasts, this team doesn't seem to stay healthy for long.

Schedule

Friday night vs Stars 8:30pm in the ET

Saturday night at Stars 8:00pm in the ET

All games on Ticket 760

Links

Stats

Standings

Next up

Monday & Wednesday in beautiful North Carolina

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No Avs conflict tonight and tomorrow the Avs don't play Winnipeg until 10:00pm in the ET so stop by and catch your prospects in action. Enjoy!