The San Antonio Rampage opened up their 2017-18 regular season with a 2-1 win over the Ontario Reign on Saturday night. While the Rampage were without one of their top defenders in Anton Lindholm, they still played a solid 40 out of 60 minutes to grab that all important first win.
Here is what was good and bad in the season opener, along with the first installment of Rampage Game Day Grades.
- The Rampage penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3 on the night, making it impossible for Ontario to get set up on the power play.
- With San Antonio holding a lead in the final moments of regulation, Ontario called timeout to set up an offensive zone face-off. The Reign pressed San Antonio the final 15.6 seconds, but the Rampage did not panic as they built a wall around the net to prevent late score from Ontario.
- Rampage coach Eric Veilleux was critical of his team’s play in the second period. Just before the end of the first, San Antonio committed two consecutive penalties, this put them down two men to begin the middle frame.
- Ontario came out more aggressive to begin the second period, seemingly putting the Rampage on their heels. The Reign outshot San Antonio 8-1 in the first three-plus minutes of the period, something Veilleux said his team needs to learn from.
Spencer Martin: The Rampage net minder began the season as the No. 1 goaltender for San Antonio and he did not disappoint. He stopped 18-of-19 shots in 60 minutes to pick up his first win of the season. His most impressive saves came during Ontario’s rush on net during the final period as he made five big saves to keep the Rampage in front. He did allow a flukey goal from Ontario’s Michael Mersch just before the second period ended, which is unlike Martin to lose focus in that situation. Grade: A-
Jordan Schmaltz: The young defenseman is a prospect of the St. Louis Blues and impressed in his first game in Silver and Black. He scored his first goal of the season in the second period and earned the First Star of the Game honors. However, where he really excelled was his skating ability. He handled the puck with ease and found open men at the blue line as well as passed well from the right to left face-off circles. If one game is anything to go by, it is easy to see why those in St. Louis speak highly of Jordan Schmaltz. Grade: A
David Warsofsky: The 27-year-old struggled all game long. He made poor decisions on and off the puck. On more than one occasion, he had the puck stripped from him and passed into traffic. Overall to sum it up and put into perspective, he looked lost and confused out there on the ice. He may be in Veilleux’s sights if he has another game this poor. Grade: C –
The fans: Rampage fans were eager to see their beloved Rampage back on the AT&T Center ice and they showed it. The arena (or ‘the barn’ as its more commonly known) was jacked from the opening puck drop. Fans were engaged all night long and it made for a great atmosphere. Rocco Grimaldi commented postgame how it was great to see the place filled nearly to the top. With energy like that, it will make the AT&T Center a tough place to win for opposing teams. Grade: A+
Up next: The Rampage are currently 1-0-0-0 on the season and will now embark on a four-game road trip. Their first stop is in California to face the Bakersfield Condors at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night.