When the Turk stops at the door of future Rampage players in a couple of weeks, the consolation prize of playing in San Antonio may just be the balm that soothes broken egos.
There’s tons of golf to play in January – during the Rampage nine-game, 22-day January-February homestand.
There’s all the sight-seeing they can handle in downtown Winnipeg – in December. (Reminder boys, pack the long underwear).
And we’re not even talking about the severe escalation in frequent flyer miles due to the 12-thousand mile, double-cross country Rodeo Roadie this season!
Rampage hockey. Keep the bags packed, even at the beginning of the season.
To avoid construction delays, the Rampage won’t find their home ice until the end of October, as the AHL schedule-monster, er, maker, gave them a grace period while the AT&T Center completes its facelift.
Only two of their first nine games will be played here going into the first week of November, which levels out in January with the aforementioned nine-games in 22 nights before the usual Rodeo sojourn in February.
But instead of playing in New England and the northeast, the aforementioned (I like that word for some reason) scheduling Mengele has the Rampage zipping across this great nation at warp speed. The new Pacific Division lineup in California will welcome the Rampage during the second month of 2016, but first, let’s have the Alamo City boys go to Charlotte, NC for a pair of contests. Then, we’ll fly them out to San Jose and Stockton, only to have them commute back east to Cleveland for a weekend set and then back to Bakersfield for more fun times.
Here’s where the schedule-makers lost the bolts in their neck. I know they do the best they can, but seriously, rather than have the Rampage, who, just criss-crossed the country FOUR times in two weeks, only to return to Bakersfield, then start a three-in-three-in-three-different cities weekend in San Diego, back in Bakersfield with a followup in Stockton in less than 72-hours. Every minor league team goes through such a stretch every season, but this is why minor league players pray for a call-up, as well as the bump in salary and prestige.
Those 12,000 frequent flyer miles will be giving Rampage players, coaches and staff many moments of glee in years to come in free tickets and teddy bears.
The Rampage return home in March for five games to reboot and figure out which time zone they are living in, but this will be the challenge of the year for coach, Dean Chynoweth, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger Randy Travis.
For the record, here is the lineup of new/old teams this season sitting on the other bench at centerice:
Pacific Division: Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton), Ontario Reign (Los Angeles), Rampage (Colorado), San Diego Gulls (Anaheim), San Jose Barracuda (San Jose), Stockton Heat (Calgary) and Texas Stars (Dallas).
Another FYI — Hamilton is now in the Ontario Hockey League (junior level), as Montreal will have its recruits in St. John this season. The Panthers of course are in Portland (hmm–didn’t the last Rampage affiliate end up in Maine as well), Columbus will fill the void left in Cleveland by Colorado coming to SA, putting their farmhands on Lake Erie and the Manitoba Moose are back in the league, as the Winnipeg Jets will keep their minor leaguers close to home. Lastly, Phoenix moves its affiliation from Portland to Syracuse.
More good news is should the Rampage be in contention late in the season, 12 of the final 18 games will be at home. And the Rampage play a full 14-games against the Texas Stars, hopefully playing like the early season success of San Antonio north of town, winning big in Cedar City around Thanksgiving, but they reverted to old times when they faltered badly against the Stars late in the year.
In any event, the home season opener can’t come quick enough for the 14th AHL season in the Alamo City. October 24th is the home opener. The season begins 70 miles northwest of here in the Austin suburbs against Texas on October 10. It’s the beginning of the third decade of pro hockey in San Antonio!
See you at the rink!