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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Scouting San Antonio Rampage

It was hard to get excited by last years games against the San Antonio Rampage and maybe you weren’t. But then again, this year’s Rampage aren’t last year’s Rampage, they are a lot of last years Utah Grizzlies instead. Isn’t that better?

Yes, friends, its true, all your hope for some exciting AHL Texas hockey lie again in Houston, where there are some cool things happening. Wayne Gretzky and Steve Passmore are about the best things on the horizon coming out of the river city right now, and Gretzky won’t be coaching the Rampage, he’s off coaching the NHL affiliate Coyotes.

Where is the Gretzky touch? What is the Gretzky touch? Will we ever see a lean and mean Rampage in our lives?

As I’m writing this, the Rampage are 1-1, having defeated the Aeros at home through power play goals. Passmore, who spent time with the Wolves in 2000, and is mainly known here for his time with the Blackhawks took the lockout as a chance to bone up on his German, playing with the DEL (German Elite League) Adler Mannheim (Mannheim Eagles).

The local newspaper, the San Antonio Express-News, in a preseason feature, indicated that Gretzky and Rampage coach Pat Conacher plan on using a fast-paced style of play on offense and an ice-clogging defence. “We want to play that up-tempo game as much as we can,” Conacher told the Express-News.

Conacher said the disappointing Utah record, where he coached for one year, was due to having a slow start, “it’s tough for a team like that, with young guys, when you start out like that… By the end of the season, we were competitive with anyone in the league,” he told the Express-News.

Just as a fact check, the Grizzlies ended the 2004-5 season 23-50-2-5. In their last ten games they were 4-6-0-1. The slow start? 1-9. (click here for 2004-5 results)

It’s a young team, no doubt, the old men of the group is 34 year old Passmore, who the team is placing a lot of hope on. Passmore and Jarrod Skalde. Skalde is one of ten players who once wore a grizzly on their chest, but now playing for the Rampage. Some people may remember his stints here in Chicago with the Wolves and the Blackhawks.

Two players with extensive NHL experience are joining the team, d man Chris McAllister has played for the played for the Rangers, the Avalanche, the Flyers, the Maple Leafs and the Canucks. During the lockout he played in the BNL for the Newcastle Vipers. Another d man from the big game is Brad Ference. He played for les Pingouins of Morzine-Avoriaz (France) last season and for the Coyotes and Panthers prior to that.

Joe Callahan, a 2004 graduate of Yale, Matt Jones, a graduate of the University of North Dakota, Lance Monych a junior from the Brandon Wheat Kings, and Kiel McLeod of Kelowna round out the young talent. As I’m writing this, the team announced it assigned Tim Jackman, a former Crunch to the Rampage.


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