Top Shelf with Tony Uminski 12/28
When sitting at a Rampage game at the AT&T Center and you hear what appears to be a loud explosion take place near the San Antonio net, most likely defenseman Duncan Siemens is on the job.
The hard-hitting defender from Edmonton is a heavyweight along the boards and opposition skaters have to think twice—is it worth it – to try and slip by the rugged blueliner.
Siemens grew up in the post-Gretzky Edmonton Era, but there were still quality hockey players he could look up to as he grew up and there were role models close to home.
“Everyone knew who he was and all the Oiler greats. Thankfully hockey just came naturally, and had the love for the game from day one” said Siemens. “My dad played and my mom was a very active person, so sports and hockey were a big part of my life.”
Just like most young hockey players growing up in Canada, destroying property was part of childhood. “I think dad had to replace some wood paneling in the garage a few times and I remember I had to help him replace sections of fence in the backyard from shooting pucks. Just like any young kid not thinking about the damage being done to the house. But my parents took it all pretty well. I got in trouble a few times but for the most part they were pretty forgiving about it.”
Tough as it was for Siemens to leave home as a teenager, he found playing junior hockey was the best route to the NHL, especially in the maturation process.
“It forces you to grow up and take on a lot of responsibilities 15 or 16 year olds don’t have,” explained Siemens, who, like other junior players, move when they are 16 to a town far away from home, and live with a billet family, who offer up living space to house and provide for the player. In Siemens case, the town was Saskatoon, Saskatchewon, 320 miles to the southeast of Edmonton. “I think it helped me mature as a person and as a player, just learning how to be a pro and trying to progress my game to this level.”
With the Blades, Siemens grew his game to where he scored the most goals he’s scored in his hockey career when he potted six in his next to last year there in 57 games. His previous season, Siemens showed he could score when he had his best offensive year with 5-38-43 in 72 games. Most likely, it was that season that caught the eye of Avalanche scouts, who used their second first-round pick in 2011 to seize Siemens with the 11th overall selection.
“It was a special day to spend with my family and other folks who are real close to me. They were also in town that day. It’s something I always dreamed of from a young age. It’s the opening of the door for the opportunity to get my dream of playing in the NHL. It’s brought me here so far, and it was the start of a process and a very special one.”
All along the road to the pros, Siemens has been a player to not only guard the net, but also defend his teammates, accumulating 412 penalty minutes in four years with the Blades. He debuted with the Lake Erie Monsters for three games in 2011-12 before returning to juniors for his final season.
Since 2013, Siemens has been a fixture on the Lake Erie and now San Antonio bluelines. When you need toughness, number 15 has it. When you need someone cleared from in front of Duncan’s net, done.
Siemens is committed to keeping the puck out of his net. As of this writing, Siemens was one of four Rampage players on the plus side of the plus-minus stat at +1 along with JT Compher, Troy Bourke and Shawn Ouellette-St. Amant.
“I’m a little more of a defensive player. I specialize in penalty kill and playing against other teams top lines. I’ll contribute a little offensively, by all means I’ll do that. It’s something I’ve started to do and progress with a little more this year. The way we play, our D is more (offensively) active. But my main focus has been to be very reliable and dependable defender.”
As he enters his second season in San Antonio and fourth full-time AHL campaign, Siemens sees what he must do to reach his big goal, the Show.
“The big thing for me is consistency. I think I need to keep progressing my puck skills. That’s the biggest difference between where we’re at here and the NHL. Those guys up there are consistent. They bring it game in and game out. That’s my biggest focus right now. Just making sure I have my best game every night.”
The Rampage are going to need Siemens’ leadership and consistency as they embark on their six-game, two-week road trip to Arizona and California this week. San Antonio is stuck at 13-15-2, which is tough in the percentage-based Pacific Division. After Tuesday’s 2-1 win that snapped a two-game losing streak to the Texas Stars, the Rampage are at a crossroads. A healthy roadie, followed by a successful 10-game home stand in January, could put the club on a positive track for the season.
“We need it now. This is a very important trip. It’s a lot of divisional games here. We have to push forward and give ourselves some room to breathe. It’s our priority, playing desperate hockey and treat every game like our (playoff) lives are on the line.”
So the next time you hear the glass rattling or see bodies flying, look for #15 in Rampage black. That would be Duncan Siemens and nearby, an opponent will be lying on his back inspecting the AT&T Center duct work.
In Case You Missed It
Bigras Factor -- Defenseman Chris Bigras, out of action for 22 games, picked up an assist on the first goal Tuesday night, just 2:57 into the contest and added a second helper on the second goal…Bigras began last season here, but was called up in January and played 31 games with the Avalanche, scoring a goal and two assists.
Jim O’Brien has three goals and an assist in his last four games.
Former Rampage forward Wade Megan notched his first NHL goal in his first NHL game on his first NHL shot after being called up by the St. Louis Blues Thursday! Megan head manned the Blues rush up ice, passed off to Ryan Reeves on the left wing, whose shot was kicked out by Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. That rebound fell right on Megan’s blade to the left of the net, and the Panthers former fifth-round pick, who played 115 games here with 22 goals out of Boston University, ripped the shot into the unguarded net. Megan earned the call-up with a team leading 14 goals for the Chicago Wolves.
AJ Greer is sixth in rookie scoring with 20 points…Rocco Grimaldi leads the team with nine goals and 21 points…Sam Jardine is making friends with penalty box attendants with 48 minutes to lead the club…Jeremy Smith got his third career NHL call-up Tuesday. Smith backed up Jonas Gustavsson in Boston last year on an emergency recall against Calgary with Tuuka Rask out with illness, and earlier in his career with Milwaukee, Smith was hailed to provide insurance should Pekka Renne need help in Nashville…speaking of goaltenders, former Texas Stars goaltender and number one Dallas pick, Jack Campbell has seemingly found his game in California. The Rampage wore out Campbell the last two seasons in Cedar Park, but he’s 11-3-2-1 with a shutout and 2.89 GAA with Ontario with a one-period appearance in Tinseltown with the Kings…Alumni Report! Former Panthers 1st round pick and Quenton Howden is second in scoring on the Manitoba Moose with 15 points, including two short-handed goals…the Moose arrive for their lone visit on Jan 20-21…while Garrett Wilson scored a goal and an assist in Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton’s 5-4 win over Binghamton, giving him 18 points in 29 games with the Penguins, along with being +17!
Seven years ago, Dec 27, 2009, goaltender Josh Tordjman stopped 44-of-45 Houston shots to earn the top star in a 4-1 stomping of the Aeros here at the AT&T Center. Tordjman, who’s 82 wins is the most in Rampage goaltending history, lives in Montreal where he helps coach kids in the local leagues and is getting into scouting. Tordjman did play two games in the NHL, and in his second start, faced his all-time goaltending hero, Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils…Ryan Hollweg, Kyle Turris, Brett MacLean and MacGregor Sharp scored for the Rampage after Warren Peters gave Texas a 1-0 first period lead. Hollweg took his bushy statche to the Czech Republic where he’s piled up the PIMs the last five years after 228 NHL games with the Rangers, Leafs and Coyotes…Turris, arguably the best Rampage player ever to suit up the Bull, has 12-12-24 in 34 games with the Ottawa Senators this season—Turris will play his 500th NHL game in January…MacLean, is working with youth programs in Canada while Sharp, who was part of the Anaheim Ducks experiment that season, has been playing in Germany and Italy the last six years scoring 108 goals.
Big six-game road swing ahead! Games will be Tucson, San Jose, San Diego, and Bakersfield. Follow the Rampage on Ticket 760 with Dan Weiss. The next Rampage home game is Jan. 19 vs Texas.