Story by Tony Uminski

SAN ANTONIO – The best medicine for a struggling, road-weary hockey team? Play the Texas Stars.

The San Antonio Rampage’s intra-state rival an hour north (well, hour-and-a-half thanks to Austin traffic) has now lost 12 straight games (0-11-1), including Friday’s 4-0 blanking at the AT&T Center by Ville Husso and the Rampage.

A San Antonio team is playing in rarified air when it comes to the Stars, as the Rampage are now 3-0 against the Cedar Park squad, outscoring Texas 16-4 in the process.  For the record, the Rampage are just 4-4-1-1 in their last 10 games after a 1-2-1 road swing through Manitoba, Chicago, and Grand Rapids.

“Being on the road for eight days, getting in late, just traveling is a grind,” said Rampage forward Mike Vecchione, who scored one of the San Antonio goals. “You just have to know how to take care of your body, sleep when you can. Fortunate we got to play with the lead tonight.”

The home team stumbled out of the gate, outshooting and out-chanced by the Stars in the first period, but scored the game’s first goal on a redirected Joey LaLeggia wrist shot from the point by Alexey Toropchenko, the 20-year old Russian’s second goal of the season at 3:13 of the period. Tanner  Kaspick also assisted.

Vecchione added his 12th of the season just 31 seconds into the second period when he found a rebound off a Jordan Kyrou shot and backhanded the puck past Texas goaltender Colton Point for a 2-0 lead. Nathan Walker, who also has 12 goals this season, added a helper on the marker.

“I was able to find it and got it towards the net,” said Vecchione, who scored 15 goals all last season in Lehigh Valley in the Flyers system. “Could have had a couple more. But I hit the goalie in the head. Walks (Nathan Walker) hit the post. Kyrou had a couple of great chances. It could have been a much higher scoring game.”

With 5:11 left in the middle session, the Rampage made upped the ante when team captain Jordan Nolan turned a strong backcheck at the Star’s blueline into the third San Antonio goal. The three-time Stanley Cup champion picked a Texas defenseman’s pocket, cut to the left boards, skated to the circle, sliced to the net and backhanded a shot under Point for an unassisted goal, his second of the year.

Defenseman Jake Walman added the fourth nail in the Texas coffin with a one-timer on the power play midway through the third period on a nice feed by Derrick Pouliot at 9:10 of the period. Cam Darcy added an assist.

All the while, Husso was fending off all of Texas’ 26 shots, including 13 of them in the third period.

“We played a good hockey game,” said the Helsinki, Finland native on his second shutout of the season. “The first period was tough, the last two period pretty good. We managed the puck. A good bounce back from Wednesday night, a tough loss in Grand Rapids.”

“I think it was really big (for Husso to get the shutout). I know the boys were really happy for him,” said Rampage coach Drew Bannister. “He’s battled here. He’s battled on the road. He had a couple of bad bounces early in the games on the road, but overall, he played well. But it’s always nice to see the bounces go his way there.”

The Rampage got another stellar performance from the backline of Pouliot, Jake Dotchin, Niko Mikkola, LeLeggia, Walman and Andres Borgman, who also got into a fight in the third period. Pouliot added to his league-leading power-play assist (12) and point totals (13), as the Rampage power-play squad, ranked second in the AHL, scored at least one goal in each of the past six games totaling seven goals in 20 chances.


The Rockford IceHogs check into the AT&T Center for a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. and then hang out on the Riverwalk or golf course Monday before the Rampage and Hogs meet up again on Tuesday night.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.


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