Here’s a quick look at the Rampage’s 2016-17 schedule.
Puck Drop: Mark Oct. 15 as the Rampage’s regular season opener, at home against the Milwaukee Admirals. Led by new coach Eric Veilleux, the Rampage are home for their first four games of the season, a back-to-back against Milwaukee on Oct. 15 and 16 and two games against Chicago on Oct. 22 and 23.
Weekend Warriors: Thirty of the Rampage’s 38 home games will be played on the weekend in 2016-17. The Rampage have 12 Friday games at the AT&T Center, 10 Saturday games and eight Sunday games. On the weekdays, the Rampage have five home games on Tuesday nights, and one game each on a Monday (Jan. 16), Wednesday (Jan. 25) and Thursday (Dec. 22). The Monday game is also on the Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Familiar Foe: The Rampage face the Texas Stars 14 times this season, with seven home games and seven road games against the Cedar Park team. The rivalry will have major playoff implications, especially when the Rampage and Stars close the season with three games against each other on April 12 (Cedar Park Center), April 14 (AT&T Center) and April 15 (Cedar Park Center). The Rampage’s next closest opponent is the new Tucson Roadrunners franchise, located almost 900 miles away.
Home in January: The Rampage have a 10-game homestand from January 13 to Feb. 3, tied for the second-longest home leg in franchise history. Iowa, Texas, Manitoba, Rockford and Ontario are all coming to town in that stretch. January closes with the 2017 AHL All-Star Game, which will be held in Lehigh Valley, Penn. on the 30th.
Pink In The Rink: The seventh annual Rampage “Pink In The Rink” game to support breast cancer awareness and research efforts takes place this season on Friday, Feb. 3 against the Texas Stars. The game, presented by On Time Elmer, will close the Rampage’s 10-game homestand and is the last game before the annual Rodeo Road Trip.
Colder Rodeo: The annual rodeo road trip will be a nine-game trip, covering 6,493 miles over the course of 23 days. While the Rampage took two February trips to California in 2015-16, they don’t go west at all in February 2017. Most of the trip will be spent in the Midwest, with games in Chicago, Rockford, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, along with a back-to-back in Manitoba. The weather might have been a little nicer in California in February.
Champions with a New Name: The Rampage will wait until March before they host the defending Calder Cup champions, the Cleveland Monsters. Previously named the Lake Erie Monsters, Cleveland comes to town on March 12 and 14. The Rampage travel to Cleveland on Oct. 27 and 28.
Three three-in-threes: One aspect of AHL scheduling is the three-in-three, where the Rampage play three games in three days. There are three of those scheduled this season: Jan. 20-22, February 10-12 and March 12-14. The Rampage had four 3-in-3s last season.
Less Coffee Needed: The Rampage’s 2016-17 schedule will be a little better on sleep cycles. Last season, one West Coast game had a puck drop at 10:30 p.m. Central time. This season, the latest Rampage game in California begins at 9:30 p.m., and all but two of the games are scheduled for 9 p.m. or earlier.
Still Need Calculators, Though: For the second straight season, the Rampage and Texas Stars will play eight more games than the rest of the Pacific Division. The Rampage, Stars and the rest of the AHL play 76 games, while the five California teams and the new Tucson team will play 68 games. Playoff spots will be determined by points percentage rather than the number of points.