While the Rampage season came to an end on April 18, six players who spent time in San Antonio this year continued to play hockey well into June, helping the Cincinnati Cyclones in a thrilling playoff run to the Kelly Cup Finals. The No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Cyclones had their sights set on a third Kelly Cup championship, but fell to the Alaska Aces in six games in a series that culminated on Monday night in Cincinnati.
But regardless of the outcome, San Antonio’s young players will reap the benefits that come with the experience of making a run deep into the playoffs.
“The biggest thing is just finding a way to play consistently every night,” says Rampage forward Wade Megan, who was playing in the playoffs for the first time in his professional career. “Coming from college, I played in some big games in the playoffs, but when you’re playing a seven-game series, it’s a whole different story – it’s a lot tougher. It was a long, hard playoff run, and I think that’s definitely going to help me out in the coming years.”
A 6-1 center from Canton, N.Y., Megan was Florida’s fifth-round selection (138th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft, and after wrapping up his collegiate career at Boston University, he made his professional debut with the Rampage on March 28, 2013, scoring a goal in a 4-1 win over Grand Rapids. He began the 2013-14 season, his first full season of pro hockey, in Cincinnati, recording nine goals and six assists in 11 games before being recalled to San Antonio.
Megan’s impact on the ice grew throughout the season, and he focused on accomplishing whatever was asked of him by the coaching staff. Whether it was playing on the third or fourth line and helping to shut down the opposing team’s top players or playing significant time with the top line on the power play, he worked on finding what he could do to best help the team while also focusing on his defensive game.
He finished the season with 11 goals and six assists for San Antonio with nine of those points coming in the 13 games the team played in March.
“I think you kind of start to develop a role that you see yourself playing and there you fit in and what you can do to help the team,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but it’s true. You have to find ways to contribute to your team, and I think I’ve been able to do that for the most part. I just need to continue to do that.”
Megan carried that success from the end of the season into the playoffs with Cincinnati as he ranked second on the team with 10 playoff goals. As the Cyclones continued their push, knocking off Orlando, Fort Wayne and Greenville before reaching the finals against Alaska, support poured in from teammates in San Antonio. Defenseman Mike Mottau caught a game in Orlando during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and also traveled to Cincinnati to catch a game, and forward Joey Crabb, an Alaska native, showed his support for his Rampage teammates in his home state.
“We were getting texts from the guys throughout the playoffs wishing us well and just letting us know they were following,” says Megan. “It just shows you the type of guys that San Antonio has and the type of guys that Florida’s organization has brought in. Just high character guys and a lot of fun to be around.”
With the season now over, Megan will head to Boston to train for the summer, finding a balance between off-ice sessions and skill work, a routine he says has been consistent throughout his career.
“I think I just need to continue to get stronger and continue to build on the little things,” he says. “I’m going to work on developing my game even more so I can come back next season and be ready to be an impact player.”