We have an on-site correspondent with the Rampage now, but he’s having issues logging in. When he’s able to log-in, these home recaps will switch over to being published by Tony, not me.
— by Tony Uminski
(San Antonio) – The Rampage celebrated the deep cultural roots of South Texas Friday night, renaming the team Los Chimuelos de San Antonio for the evening’s game with San Jose, but the results were the same on the scoreboard, a 2-1 setback to the Barracuda, for their eighth straight loss in nine games to open the season.
For the record, the Chimuelos in Spanish culture are the skeletal faces with missing teeth made famous in the animated movie, “Coco.”
And talk about missing teeth, or a Day of the Dead situation, how about that Rampage offense – a perfect near-death description, which has now scored just 16 goals in nine games.
Adding to the disappointment was St. Louis’ sending in some re-inforcements for the floundering lineup, with Robbie Fabbri and Samuel Blais playing in their second games, and veteran defenseman Carl Gunnarsson skating in his first game since last March.
“It’s that last test,” said Gunnarsson about his first taste of contact after his leg injury. “It felt pretty good. I still need a little more time to get used to it, but we’ll get there.”
Fabbri, who scored in his first Rampage contest Wednesday in Rockford, looked spry and quick on the AT&T Center ice, even cutting in sharply toward the San Jose goal midway through the third period, a testament to the strengthening regiment he went through to get back into game shape.
“The body’s feeling good. The legs are still there,” said Fabbri after the game. “It’s the little parts of the game, the little plays that’s using my instincts, just getting back to the way I played is gonna take a few games here.”
Overall, Fabbri put in 18:56 for the game, including playing the point on the power play, and getting used to game action, putting his body to the test.
“Those plays are just reading off the pressure, trying to find those soft spots in the slot and get a good shot,” said the former first rounder detailed by injuries. “It’s gonna come and I feel it coming. I just have to stick with it.”
Fabbri fell victim to AT&T Center ice as he tried a drop step but left the puck on the faceoff dot in the right circle five minutes into the game, but you could see the upper level skills very apparent in his moves and ice presence.
The lackluster game lulled the 7,703 fans nearly into the after-life with both teams playing mainly between the bluelines in the first period, where each club managed just six shots. Only a last second chance off a partial break by Mackenzie MacEachern was a serious scoring chance for San Antonio as the horn sounded.
San Jose came into the game at 5-1-1 – coming off a 3-2 home loss to Stockton after starting the season 5-0-1.
Francis Perron got the Barracuda on the board during a 5-on-3 situation with a shot through a screen high off the post over the stick hand of Ville Husso at 5:50.
The Rampage enjoyed a rare odd-man rush halfway through the middle session when Trevor Smith nearly combined with Nikita Soshnikov on a successful 2-on-1, but Soshnikov’s shot was wide right.
Husso scrambled to keep the puck out when the Barracuda returned the attack, getting a shoulder on a shot while going back and forth in the crease.
Halfway through the game shots were only 11-10 in favor of the visitors.
The score remained 1-0 through the second period, but with 8:28 left in the second – Husso attracted a crowd in the crease as San Jose’s Alexander True was knocked down in front of the net. Husso, lying on his stomach across the goal mouth somehow gloved a shot from the point.
The Rampage finally got on the scoreboard at 5:28 of the third period, taking advantage of a Barracuda defensive breakdown at the blueline. The puck emerged from a crowd, only to have Musil and Klim Kostin bear down on the San Jose goal 2-on-none situation. Kostin’s shot was stopped by San Jose goaltender Josef Korenar, but the rebound went in off Musil’s leg to tie the game.
But less than two minutes later, Husso went behind the net to play the puck on a dump-in, only to have it hit something in the corner, pop in front of the Rampage goal and Matt Fontayne jammed it into the empty net at 7:14 with Husso looking helplessly through the netting.
Typical ending for a team struggling to get back into the win column. The Rampage are simply having trouble generating any consistent offensive zone pressure, rarely getting more than one shot or chance on net, if at all.
And with the St. Louis rehabbers set to rejoin their Blues teammates after this weekend, the Rampage season, with or without teeth, looks bleak indeed.
The Rampage will try and end the tailspin with a 3 pm faceoff Sunday against the Chicago Wolves (LV).
“It was good getting back into game speed. It’s been seven months now. It’s going to take a little bit to get the legs going. But not too bad for the first game,” said Gunnarsson.