Even though the Rampage ended their season on a down note, losing to the Manitoba Moose, 5-2 in the finale, they did have a chance to erase some of the negativity of much of March that took the team out of the playoff picture.
San Antonio won nine of the last 11 games to finish 33-35-8-0 in the Colorado Avalanche affiliate’s first year in the Alamo City. The positive end run was therapeutic for Rampage head coach, Dean Chynoweth, but Friday night’s game left a lot to be desired.
“I’m extremely disappointed, it played out the whole season,” said Chynoweth. “Yeah we played when it didn’t really mean anything. You want to be playing meaningful games this time of year. And that wasn’t the case.”
“I think penalties changed the momentum of the game,” said Chynoweth. “The third period we obviously had some breakdowns and Reto was deep in his net on a couple when they capitalized.”
The Rampage were sailing along at the tail end of the middle period when the game shifted. Six straight Rampage penalties resulted in three Moose goals in the last five minutes of the period.
“I looked at some of the calls and I thought they were questionable. If he’s going to call those he needs to call them both ways,” said Chynoweth. “But that happens in a game. The disallowed goal I thought was the wrong call from the standpoint it was a hockey play. Ben Street driving the net, doesn’t push (Moose goalie Connor Hallebuyck) in the net, he’s trying to get to the net and I think the puck was actually in the net before the infraction happened.”
The Rampage came out firing in the third period, only to have Manitoba score on a breakout. Playing from behind in the third period wasn’t a strong point for the Rampage, winning only once at home this season in that situation. The Moose outshot SA, 34-20.
Rantanen Recounts His Record-Breaking Season
If American Hockey League co-rookie of the year Finland native Mikko Rantanen enjoyed filling AHL nets with pucks, the 19-year-old forward also found the South Texas weather to his liking.
“I love the weather here,” Rantanen said with a wide smile. “It was January and it’s still 70 degrees. That’s not happening in Finland. I like this city, and it was nice to spend it here.”
On his season: “It was good for me. I learned a lot about the North American style. Playing here is a lot different than playing in Finland. The hockey style is different too. The rink is smaller and the game is faster. So it was a big year for me.”
On what he has to do to get to the next level:
“There’s always something to work on. Coaches have their job to tell me, and I can see by myself what I have to work on.”
“I think playing here this year, playing 20 minutes a night will help me to battle the plays and the lineup next year up there. Hopefully I can do that. I’m confident and if I have a healthy, good summer I’ll be ready.”
On what he's going to do this summer to prepare for his NHL career:
“First I’m going to rest a couple of weeks. Forget hockey for two to four weeks. Then get back to the gym and start working hard hopefully I can be healthy all the time, I can work hard and then go to camp in October.”
Chynoweth on the move from Ohio:
“It’s a great move from an organizational standpoint, working with the Spurs having a similar setup we had in Cleveland. I’m not gonna lie the move itself, not personally, but as a group, as an organization has had its challenges of getting settled, getting familiar with everything. Hopefully by next year we’re through all that. What I mean by that is you take for granted that you pick up and go. I think some of the players had an adjustment with that. I think the ice conditions at times were an adjustment. The practice facility is being much improved. And that’ll be a huge asset going forth, looking forward to that. There’s little things in the group that we have to be better and we’re working on it.”