SAN ANTONIO, TX – The San Antonio Rampage opened the 2017-18 season with a gritty 2-1 win over the Ontario Reign in front of 7,251 fans at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.
The game was a welcome sight for both the team and fans, who want to see an improved hockey team after the team finished near the bottom of the league. San Antonio began solid defensively from the opening puck drop and allowed just three shots on goal from Ontario in the opening 20 minutes.
“I thought we had a great start,” Rampage coach Eric Veilleux said. “We played fast and competed hard. The D-Zone was exceptional and in the third we played another solid period.”
Samuel Blais opened the scoring midway through the first period when he tipped home a pass from Rocco Grimaldi at 10:48, putting San Antonio up a goal going into the second period.
Before the period ended, San Antonio committed back-to-back penalties. This meant the Reign would start off the second period with a 5-on-3 two man advantage.
Ontario came out of the locker room with aggression to begin the middle frame. The Reign outshot San Antonio 8-2 in the first six minutes of the period, but Rampage goaltender Spencer Martin stood tall.
San Antonio killed off Ontario’s two-man advantage and added to their lead in the process. Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz took a pass from Gabriel Bourque, beating Reign net minder Jack Campbell to put the Rampage up two just over two minutes into the frame. Before the period ended Michael Mersch scored the lone goal for Ontario.
Despite the Rampage hanging on for the win, Veilleux knows his team needs to learn from this.
“We slowed down a bit in the second period,” he said. “We did not get burned this time, but we need to learn from this. Even though its a win, we need to learn what happened in that period.”
Spencer Martin picked up his first win of the season, stopping 18-of-19 Ontario shots. The Rampage penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, despite them not getting a chance to get on the man advantage themselves.
“The three or four shots in the first [period] weren’t scoring chances,” Martin said. “So that definitely helps me.”
Three Stars of the Game:
1st Star: Jordan Schmaltz (SA): 1 goal, 0 assists
2nd Star: Samuel Blais (SA): 1 goal, 0 assists
3rd Star: Michael Mersch (ONT): 1 goal, 0 assists
- Game notes: The Rampage win over Ontario was their first home opener win since 2014.
Up next: The Rampage are now 1-0-0-0 (2 points) on the season and will return to the ice on Thursday, Oct. 12 when they hit the road for the first time this season in California to face the Bakersfield Condors at 8:30 p.m.