After a week of practices at the Northwoods Ice Center, the new-look Rampage are ready to take on the preseason with two contests against Pacific Division rival the Texas Stars.
Tonight at the Cedar Park Center in the Austin suburbs, the Rampage, with a new affiliate, new players, new coaches and operations staff, open the 2015-16 preseason with a 7 p.m. faceoff against Texas.
Both Rampage and Stars fans will need a program to figure out who is chasing the puck tonight in a chamber of horrors for San Antonio teams of the past.
With the change of affiliation during the off-season, the San Antonio lineup will feature all-new faces to Rampage fans, but many are familiar to SA head coach Dean Chynoweth, who helmed the club in Cleveland the last three seasons as the Lake Erie Monsters.
Among skaters who should tickle Rampage fans this season is Andrew Agozzino, in his fourth season with the Colorado Avalanche AHL franchise. He’s averaged 33 goals in the three seasons up north and led the Monsters in scoring last year.
Ben Street is the set-up man with 39 points last season, 30 coming off assists. Rampage fans will recall watching Street performing surgery on the San Antonio cage while skating with the Abbotsford Heat for two seasons, including a team high four markers against SA two years ago.
Former Houston Aero, Maxim Noreau will anchor the backline. Along with Agozzino and Street, Noreau was among the final Avalanche cuts to San Antonio this week. The veteran blueliner has played 35 games against San Antonio in four seasons with Houston.
In goal, Calvin Pickard should provide reliable net work. The former second-round Avalanche pick made his NHL debut last season with a 6-7-3 mark and 2.35 goals against average, which was better than any of his AHL GAA’s over four seasons. Even more impressive was his .932 save percentage with Colorado.
After just a short practice on Saturday, the Rampage and Stars will re-engage Sunday at 3 p.m., to wrap up the preseason, but the two clubs open the regular season at CPC next Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.
FUN FACT: Rampage goaltending coach Jean-Ian Filiatrault has a previous San Antonio connection. He was the Oklahoma City goaltender in 1995-96 CHL Finals when the Iguanas went seven games in losing to the Blazers.