Views From The Press Box, Week Nine

I once worked for someone who told me that “first impressions are lasting impressions”. I know it sounds a bit cheesy and cliché, but could that phrase be more telling of what we’ve witnessed from the Rampage through the first quarter of the 2009-10 season? If you look deep inside the numbers, they do tell quite a story. Cranking up the old way back machine for a moment, when the Rampage started the year 6-1-1, they scored the opening goal in five out of those first eight games and tallied 11 first period goals. By comparison, over the course of the Rampage’s 11-game winless streak (0-9-1-1), San Antonio scored the opening goal only once and netted just ONE first period goal while getting outscored 14-1 combined in the first twenty minutes of action. Now let’s look at Saturday’s win against Milwaukee. Chad Kolarik’s goal 1:17 seconds into the contest snapped a 130:36 minute shutout streak in the first period by the Rampage dating back to the 10:41 mark of the opening frame on Nov. 4 in Rockford when ironically Kolarik also scored. Even better, when Brett MacLean notched a power play goal at 9:11 of the period, it marked the first time that the Rampage had scored multiple first period goals since scoring six in the first period six weeks to the date on Oct. 17 against Grand Rapids. Now one might shrug this off as pure coincidence, but there’s a reason why “Record When Scoring First” is a statistic tracked by the American Hockey League. Of the 333 AHL games played so far this season, teams who score first have a record of 238-60-16-19. That translates to a .767% winning percentage. So basically teams that score first are guaranteed to win nearly 77% percent of the time, and claim at least a point 82% of the time. It always amazes me how this appears to be more of a psychological factor in hockey more so than in any other sport. Now granted, scoring in hockey is significantly harder than in any of the other three majors, but a near 77% winning percentage is also practically unheard of. By the way in case you were wondering, the Rampage are 6-0-1 this season when scoring first, and 5-1-1 when scoring a first period goal. First impressions are lasting impressions indeed…

…From the MASH department: Like everywhere else in professional hockey this season, injuries are starting to pile up for the Rampage. Defenseman Jonas Ahnelov had successful surgery on his dislocated shoulder last Tuesday and is expected to miss a good chunk of the rest of the season, while goalie Al Montoya’s status is unclear after suffering a similar shoulder injury Tuesday against Milwaukee. Montoya underwent an MRI over the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll simply be able to rehab the shoulder, or if he too will need surgery. On a good injury note, word is that forward David Spina’s recovery from a torn pectoral muscle is coming along nicely, and he was finally able to partake in some physical activity for the first time since getting injured in the pre-season finale…

…Our next episode of “Crashing the Net” (and first with new head coach Ray Edwards) will air all this week starting Tuesday on SARAMPAGE.com. Unlike previous episodes where we’ve jammed all three parts into one sitting, we’ll now air a new segment each day leading up to Friday’s home game against the Houston Aeros. Your questions for Coach Edwards are always welcome at dweiss@attcenter.com...

…Fan voting for the 2010 AHL All-Star Game begins today at 11:00 a.m. central standard time. The players receiving the most votes by position will earn berths in the starting line-ups of both the Canadian and PlanetUSA all-star teams. The 2010 All-Star Game is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. Online fan voting at theahl.com will run until 10:59 p.m. central standard time on Sunday, Dec. 27. If you had to vote today, who would be your Rampage representative for the all-star game?

…The Manitoba Moose are finally making some noise in the North Division. The Moose are unbeaten in their last seven games (5-0-2) following up a five-game losing streak. Manitoba is getting all they can out of goalie Cory Schneider while he’s still around. Schneider is 10-5 with a 2.29 goals against average and a .919% save percentage, but with Roberto Luongo firmly entrenched in the Vancouver net, Schneider clearly has an expiration date inside the Canucks organization. The only question is when is that going to be…

…Did you know that the Rampage’s victory Saturday snapped a 22-game winless streak in the month of November? San Antonio’s last November win before Saturday was back on Nov. 30, 2007 against Grand Rapids…

…Upset of the Week: Syracuse earned just their second road win in 13 games following a 4-3 victory Saturday at the always tough Wachovia Arena against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Meanwhile, the Penguins dropped three consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 22-26, 2008…

…Bring on those questions! Send your questions and comments to dweiss@attcenter.com. Be sure to follow “Views from the Press Box” on Twitter all season at “SARAMPAGE”.

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