By: Stephen Whitaker
After several years as the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Florida Panthers the San Antonio Rampage became the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche this summer. On Saturday night against the Stockton Heat, the new members of the Rampage put on quite a show for the Alamo City faithful as they peppered the Heat goal with 31 shots and scored five goals in a 5-1 win.
Among the goal scorers were Mikko Rantanen, a first round pick of Colorado in this year’s NHL draft. Rantanen debuted with Colorado on October 10 before being sent to San Antonio to get more playing time than he might have gotten with the Avalanche.
“We played well for three periods,” Rantanen said. “It was nice to score a goal but the team win is the biggest thing.”
Rantanen’s goal was the first scored on the night and some goal it was. The Finnish winger took the puck just inside the blue line in Stockton’s end of the ice and laced his shot into the back of the net behind Heat goalie Jon Gillies after just 6:40 had been played in the opening period. San Antonio added another goal before the end of the first period and a crowd that had been in a frenzy because of the delayed start and pre-game happy hour went wild.
“Even with the delay I liked our start,” Rampage head coach Dean Chynoweth said. “The atmosphere is excellent. It was a great environment. The fans were loud. You could hear them in the dressing room.”
Rantanen echoed his coach saying, “I was surprised. They kept making noise.”
The crowd might have fueled Rantanen but they also fueled Chris Bigras to get his first goal in the AHL. That goal came 12:16 into the second period and only four minutes after Bigras had assisted on the third Rampage goal.
“It felt good to get it out of the way,” Bigras said. “Especially in a win.”
The Bigras goal was one of three scored in the second period to give the Rampage a 5-0 lead going into the 3rd period.
Stockton would get a goal of their own in the third period but by then it was too little too late.
The Rampage (3-0-1-0) will have their next home game on Friday, November 6 at the AT&T Center. That night will be a $1 drink night. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased at the AT&T Center box office or on www.sarampage.com.