Top Shelf with Tony Uminski 2/15
Rampage forward Mike Sislo is used to scoring goals. He’s the all-time franchise leader for the Albany Devils in goals scored. His resume includes 27 goals last season in Albany, with three more goals in 14 games with the NHL Devils. The University of New Hampshire grad averaged 16 goals a game in college hockey. Sislo knows where the net is anchored. So this season’s six goals in 49 games has cause for concern, but the 5-11 shooter from Wisconsin is confident his shots will start keeping goal judges busy.
“I love it here. It’s definitely nice to leave practice in shorts and a t-shirt,” said Sislo about being a part of the San Antonio Rampage. “Obviously, the hockey hasn’t gone the way I wanted. My shot is one of my better strengths. I’m always trying to work on it, how to get it off better.”
One the main reasons for Sislo’s success in the New York capitol was his connection with current Rampage captain Joe Whitney, who is the all-time Albany Devils scoring leader, with many of those dish-offs announced with Sislo’s goals.
“We played quite a bit on the power play there,” explained Sislo. “We were able to have good chemistry and find each other. We’re hoping to re-gain some of that success here.”
This assignment west of the Adirondacks is a first for Sislo since his junior years in Green Bay before heading off to the Granite State. “At the end of the day, hockey is hockey,” the Superior, Wisconsin native said about any difference between conferences. “There are some differences when it comes to travel, and cities and places to go. But it’s all pretty similar.”
The big hockey culture shock came earlier for Sislo, when he went from one hockey hotbed to another as a teenager – heading east from the Badger State to the White Mountains.“It helped me grow up. I can’t say enough about the school, the coach (26-year head coach Dick Umile), the friends I made there. It was an unbelievable experience.”
Sislo finished his degree in Health Management, which he hopes he doesn’t have to worry about using for the time being, focusing instead on his hockey career.
“We’re a hungry group that wants to succeed. We’re not happy with the fact that we’ve faced adversity and climbed back in it. We feel like we have the group that can take the hard work ethic, the skill that when we play our best, it’s tough to beat us.”
The Rampage have three more games this week starting tonight in Milwaukee, followed by a pair of contests in Grand Rapids with the always tough Griffins on Friday and Saturday nights.Follow the action with Dan Weiss on Ticket760.
In Case You Missed It
After eight seasons and over 300 games in the minor leagues, Rampage goaltender Jeremy Smith finally got his chance to play in the NHL Tuesday night against Sislo’s former team, the New Jersey Devils. Although coming out on the negative end of a 3-2 count, Smith impressed with 37 saves. The starting goaltender leads the team out for the pre-game shootaround, and Colorado teammates pulled a fun gag on the veteran masked man, allowing Smith to bolt onto the ice and, unbeknownst to Smith, do a solo circle skate around the Avalanche zone before laughing teammates joined him on the ice…with starter Semyon Varlamov’s season-ending surgery, this may not be Smith’s only appearance…Avs coach Jared Bodnar was quoted on NHL.com as saying, “I thought he was fantastic. He was our best player by a country mile.”…
former Rampage forward Andrew Agozzino has been suspended one game for his hit to the head of Felix Girard Saturday night in a game against the Chicago Wolves. Agozzino, not known for unsportsmanlike play last year when he picked up just 32 penalty minutes, earned a match penalty for the hit, and had to deal with Girard’s linemate, Rocco Grimaldi as well. Grimaldi was given 17 penalty minutes for instigation, fighting and a misconduct…Girard did return to action in the game and assisted on Joe Whitney’s goal just 28 seconds after the dust up…speaking of penalty minutes – 84 in just the second period in the Feb. 11th game in Cedar Park between the Texas Stars and Tucson Roadrunners in a game won by the Stars, 6-3.
On Feb. 10, 2007 a two-goal game by Pascal Rheaume in Milwaukee led the Rampage to a 5-3 win over the Admirals. Rheaume added an assist on defenseman Joe Callahan’s lone goal of the season, while Yanick Lehoux and Randall Gelech each scored a goal and two assists. Josh Tordjman stopped 31 shots for the Rampage, while Chris Ferraro’s third period goal proved to be the game winner. Future Rampage goaltender Karl Goehring took the loss. Future Rampage captain, Nolan Yonkman and future Rampage skater Chris Durno also skated in the contest for the Admirals. David LeNeveu backed up Tordjman, while NHL All-star in waiting Pekka Rinne, was passed over to allow the 5-5 Goehring to play.