Rampage assistant captain Trevor Smith knows plenty about winning-streaks.
In fact, you could argue few in the professional hockey world know more about them than Smith, an integral part of the greatest winning streak in hockey history. The 14-game unbeaten streak the Rampage have enjoyed at the AT&T Center is still far from the category of what the 2011-12 Calder Cup champion Norfolk Admirals accomplished, but that doesn’t mean it cannot provide a significant spark for a Rampage team trying to climb back into the Central Division playoff picture.
“Streaks are always fun. It’s probably one of the best feelings in sports,” said Smith, who has three goals and eight points during San Antonio’s 13-0-1 stretch at home. “Going into the game having that feeling knowing you’re going to win, everyone is helping out where they can. Even if we’re down with a period to go, that feeling of knowing we’re going to win is hard to explain. That confidence you have in your team makes it probably the most exciting time to play.”
Smith was one of the leaders in Norfolk in 2011-12 when the Admirals finished the season on a 28-game winning streak, still the longest winning streak in professional hockey history. Smith was second on the team in scoring with 69 points, picking up eight goals and 19 points during the streak and missing a portion of the run due to call-ups to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Seven seasons later, it’s still difficult for Smith to describe how winning can take on a life of its own.
“It’s hard to explain because it’s such a difficult thing in sports to get to a stage that you’re streaking like that. To get to that point and to ride that wave is unreal.”
“You have fun with it and it’s the best time to be playing the game. That feeling of confidence, knowing that someone is going to make the play to be successful, that is what success is in the sport.”
San Antonio’s unbeaten streak at the AT&T Center is their longest string of home success in franchise history, with the team not suffering a regulation loss in San Antonio since November 25th. During that time, eight different Rampage players have notched game-winning goals.
“It’s every guy chipping in where they can. One night it’ll be one guy and another night it’ll be someone else,” said Smith. “You look around the room and get that excited feeling that someone is going to do it. You don’t know if it’s going to be you or somebody else, or maybe the goalie is going to make a big save.”
The Rampage have outscored their opponents 46-25 during their streak, including two shutout victories. They’ve won 19 home games this season, the most in the AHL and four shy of the franchise record.
The team won’t be able to improve on their home success until March as they depart for the ten-game Rodeo Road Trip. The Rampage certainly need to find a way to transfer their home success to the road, where they’ve won a league-low four games this season.
Their record on this trip will absolutely impact their post-season prospects, but the team takes off for Iowa within five points of a playoff spot thanks to what they have accomplished on their own rink.
“You always like playing at home when you can sleep in your own bed and be around your family,” said Smith. “But we talked about making our home rink a hard place for other teams to come play in. Since that first month of the season we talked about making it hard on other teams and being hard to play against.”
“We’ve done that, especially at the AT&T Center.”