The San Antonio Rampage sit seven points behind the Conference leading Oklahoma City Barons with just 23 games left in this 2014-15 season. The two teams meet four more times, all in OKC, before the season ends on April 18th. This weekend, the Rampage travel up I-35 for a two-game weekend matchup with the Barons. If the Rampage are going to make their move for the division–and possible #1 seed in the west–it starts with these two games.
The Rampage are an impressive 6-0-2 against the top team in the West (2-0 in OKC) and an even more impressive 20-5-2 within the division, taking 42 of 54 possible points. Despite this success, the Rampage find themselves just six points clear of 9th place Hamilton because of struggles outside the division. Of the final 23 games, 13 will come within the division though, including six against Charlotte and Iowa, the bottom two teams.
The two keys for the Rampage this weekend? Jump on top early and stay away from “free hockey”. The Barons are an impressive 19-3-2 when scoring first and lead the league with 13(!) OT wins. Not only is staying away from a dangerous 3v3 OT team like OKC important, OT also reduces the chances of catching up in the standings by introducing the dreaded “3rd point” to the mix.
Also, the Rampage boast the league’s 2nd best road power play scoring on 26 of 115 chances (22.6%). With the return of Shane O’Brien and the sudden prowess of Mackenzie Weegar on the power play, this bodes well for the silver and black this weekend. Garrett Wilson however, who leads the Rampage with six power play goals, is still on recall in Florida which could have a negative impact.
- Bobby Butler has crept up to 4th place in the AHL scoring race with 23g-25a-48pts. He’s also T-2nd in the league with six game winning goals.
- Surprising Rampage rookie Connor Brickley (18g-13a-31pts) now sits just one point behind Rocco Grimaldi (9g-23a-32pts) for the team lead in rookie scoring. Raise your hand if you predicted Brickley would be the most effective rookie on the team this season. Now put your hand down, you liar.
- The Barons, due to injuries in Edmonton, have had to deal with recent callups of Iiro Pakarinen, Ryan Hamilton, and Jordan Oesterle. To offset that a bit, the team recently re-acquired CJ Stretch from the dreadful Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Stretch had 29 points in 74 games in his only full season with the Barons in 2013-14.
As always, you can hear Dan Weiss call all the action on Ticket 760 and IHeartRadio. Puck drops at 7:00pm CST both Friday and Saturday night.
Be sure to tune in to Running With the Herd Live as well, this Monday at 7:00pm CST as we return after a week off. We will break down this weekend’s action and look ahead to the return of the Rampage to the ATT Center Ice next Saturday night. Simply click the “Listen Live” tab and enjoy.