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Reid Petryk has some catching up to do. And catching up is one of the things Petryk does best.

The Edmonton, Alberta native missed the first 25 games this season with an undisclosed injury and if his recent play is any indication, Petryk is making progress in getting back to his exceptional play from last year.

When he scored twice against the Tucson Roadrunners on Mar. 21 in a 4-2 Rampage win, he could tell his game was coming together at last. “A couple games before that, I was playing good, but I wasn’t putting up any numbers, so it was definitely nice to put a couple in the net and hopefully keep doing that down the stretch,” said the 6-1 left winger.

Ironically, Petryk was one of two Rampage skaters to have his name on more than 70 line-up cards last season, so not having him available to play has made this a challenging season for both player and team.

“It’s always tough coming back from a long-term injury,” said Petryk, who has been known for his hard checks and strong penalty killing skills. “It took a while for my game to come back, but I think it’s starting to come back now.”

Petryk took the junior hockey route to San Antonio and a pro contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He played for Medicine Hat, Everett and Edmonton in his five-year junior career, where he scored 48 goals and 104 points. Not shy on the ice, Petryk also earned 194 penalty minutes. And like most Canadian teenage boys leaving home for glory on the ice, Petryk said joining the Tigers was an exciting time.

“It’s always tough leaving home, friends and family,” he recalled. “But I made some new friends when I went to Med Hat.”

Petryk was just one of the minions of North American hockey playing teenagers, getting introduced to “billet familes” who house and take care of the youngsters while they hone their skills far from home. “I had two, or I guess you could say three, billet families,” he said with a wink as he stayed at home for his time back in Edmonton. “They were super nice in Medicine Hat. I can’t say enough nice things about them and also in Everett they helped me a lot, so I’ve been lucky that way.” The trade to his hometown for his final junior season put him back under the wings of his folks. “My parents have always helped me out during my hockey career. My dad putting through power skating or simple camps.”

Reid’s success on the ice paid off for his dad’s patience while the young Petryk worked on his skills in the backyard. His dad set up a shooting gallery for his burgeoning son, only to have Reid rip up the gallery and netting. “He was always mad at me for breaking the shooter tutor or the net. He had to always buy me new ones.”

Winning away from home cured any homesickness and Medicine Hat was a great place to begin his organized hockey career. The Tigers earned 100 standing points in his second season there in 2010-11, only to have Red Deer nab 104 and the Central Division title. His third year saw him traded to the Everett Silvertips, where he would score 27 goals spread over two seasons.

“It was a bit strange, (getting traded). I saw the first one coming (to Everett), so it wasn’t too bad. The second one (to Edmonton) took me by surprise, but you couldn’t beat going back to Edmonton.”

That deal not only sent Petryk back home, but also gave him the chance to hoist the Ed Chynoweth Cup (named after former Rampage coach and Petryk’s first pro coach, Dean Chynoweth’s father) for winning the WHL title with the Oil Kings, followed by a Memorial Cup Championship against teams from the Ontario and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues. That season four years ago saw Petryk contribute a career-high 56 points and an additional nine points in 17 games playoff games.

“It was unbelievable. Best junior season of my life,” said Petryk with pride. “You can’t beat going all the way with a great group of guys. Everybody got along really well. We had depth. Good goaltending. Good group of guys that really fit together.”

Undrafted, Petryk but signed his first pro deal in 2014 and split the season in Lake Erie and Fort Wayne, trying to show NHL teams they made a mistake overlooking him. “There’s always challenges in hockey and you gotta get through those,” said Petryk. “It’s been fun working my way up, starting in Fort Wayne.”

His gritty play continued last season here where he played 72 games, scoring his pro-high 37 points on 15 goals and 22 assists, becoming a fan favorite with his hard hits and hard work, earning himself an AHL deal in the Avalanche system.

“It’s always nice seeing your hard work and dedication pay off. I enjoyed myself last year. We didn’t like not making the playoffs, obviously, but it was a fun year for me.”

This season, not so much, thanks to the injury that slowed his return. But most AHL players know when number 38 jumps over the boards, hoping to avoid the hard charging lad from the north. Petryk still has time to put a positive spin on this season, and it should be fun watching him catch up.

In Case You Missed It

Only four Rampage players have scored 30 or more goals in a season and Rocco Grimaldi is about to make it five. Grimaldi scored his 28th of the season Tuesday in Tucson, and can make the Fab Four the Jive Five this weekend against Stockton…keep reading for the other four Rampage sharpshooters...Bakersfield goaltender Jonas Gustavsson became the 12th AHL netminder to score a goal in a game. Gustavsson made a save against the San Diego Gulls, when a Gulls player on the power play made a bad pass back to the blueline with no one home…the puck slid all the way down the ice and into the San Diego net. Since Gustavsson was the last player on the Condors to touch the puck, he was credited with the goal. The eighth goal to be scored by a goaltender in an AHL game was scored right here by Milwaukee’s Seamus Kotyk, but he actually shot the puck on Apr. 17, 2005...for the record, two former Rampage goalies have their names listed among the AHL’s Dynamic Dozen goal scoring goalies – Reto Berra when he was playing for Lake Erie against the Chicago Wolves on Jan. 16, 2015, and first year Rampage goaltender, Chris Mason scored for Milwaukee against the Utah Grizzlies on Oct. 15, 2001, the year before the Rampage were born.

Rampage Review

On Mar. 31, 2007, Yanick Lehoux and Alex Leavitt scored twice each to lead the Rampage past Peoria, 6-3 at the AT&T Center. Just three weeks earlier, San Antonio swamped the Rivermen, 7-5, as Leavitt again scored two goals, along with two assists, and all-time leading goal-scorer for a year, Donald MacLean, had two goals and three assists in that early March contest, where the Riverman levied 23 shots on goal in the first period alone. MacLean went on to set the Rampage single season record of 33 goals that year. Lehoux also scored 31 that 2006-07 season when the Rampage went 32-42-0-2…how do you miss the playoffs and finish 10 games under .500 with two 30 goal scorers on your team – that team had 256 goals allowed had something to do with it. By the way, the other 30-goal Rampage scorer? Another MacLean, Brett, scored 30 during the 2009-10 season. The former Phoenix Coyotes second-round pick was forced to retire because of a heart condition five years ago.