The Rampage entered the biggest weekend of the season trailing division leader Oklahoma City by 6 points. After taking three out of six possible points–and with OKC winning both of their games, including Saturday night’s 2-1 OT win–they now trail the Barons by seven points.
The weekend started off with a bang as the Rampage jumped on the rival Stars early and often, chasing Jussi Rynnas after just five shots–three of which found the net. Fueled by Rocco Grimaldi’s one goal and four assist performance, Quinton Howden’s four assists, and two goals each from Garrett Wilson and Logan Shaw, the Rampage beat the Stars 7-3 before 6,974 (mostly) thrilled hockey fans. Dan Ellis picked up his 12th win of the season stopping 33 of 36 shots, including another save of the year candidate on former Rampage captain Greg Rallo in the second period.
Saturday night saw the division leaders come to town for a huge matchup. In a complete turnaround from Friday night’s wide open game, Saturday was a well played game for 40 minutes which saw the Rampage strike first late in the second period as Brett Olson would clean up a rebound in the crease and give the Rampage a 1-0 lead going into the second intermission. The third period, however, saw the high powered Barons come out ready for blood. Outshooting and outworking the Rampage in a major way, the Barons would get the equalizer on a beautiful passing play, that left Rampage goalie Michael Houser standing still, in the 6th minute of the period. Houser was brilliant all night, especially after the tying goal and almost single-handedly earned the Rampage a point they probably didn’t deserve, before giving up an OT goal to Brandon Davidson and taking the OT loss.
The Rampage returned to Cedar Park on Sunday for a rematch with the Stars. The Stars would return the favor from Friday night as rookie Gemel Smith scored just 23 seconds into the game. The Rampage would battle back, scoring twice on the power play, but could never take the lead as Dan Ellis–and the defense in front of him–struggled to keep the Stars off the board. Bobby Butler and Garrett Wilson scored for the Rampage and Jessie Blacker cashed in on his first goal in the silver and black in his second game played since being acquired for Colby Robak.
The Rampage will get a much needed day off on Monday before getting back at it on Tuesday in preparation for their big five game road trip against the North Division, starting with a matchup against Jacob Markstrom and Conference leading Utica on New Year’s Day.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow night at 7pm for this week’s Running With the Herd Live on Stucknut Radio. Click the “Listen Live” tab and enjoy.