The San Antonio Rampage finished its 2015-16 season in seventh place in the Pacific Division with a record of 33-35-8-0 (74 points) and a .487 win percentage. The Rampage went 15-20-3-0 at home and 18-15-5-0 on the road. Against the Central Division, San Antonio went 14-14-4-0 and had a record of 19-21-4-0 against opponents form the Pacific Division. The team split its 16 overtime games, going 8-8, but it was a perfect 3-0 in shootouts.
San Antonio's power-play unit ranked 14th in the league with a total of 48 goals in 285 opportunities and were eighth best on the road (24-for-139). The Silver and Black also scored seven short-handed goals. The Rampage posted a record of 18-13-5-0 when scoring first.
The club got off to a good start, winning five of its first six games and had a 10-game point streak to begin the year. It was the last AHL team to lose a game in regulation. San Antonio also concluded the year on a hot streak, winning nine of its last 11 decisions and tied a franchise record with seven consecutive home wins. However, injuries and recalls took a toll on the team, and the Rampage was unable to qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs.
The 2015-16 season saw a realignment of AHL teams and divisions, as the Western Conference Rampage moved from the Central Division to the newly formed Pacific Division. The change also led to a new playoff format with the top four teams in each division qualifying for the postseason based on points percentage (points earned divided by points available).
This year also marked the first of five campaigns that the Rampage will serve as the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate. The Avs announced the affiliation at the conclusion of last season, after partnering with the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland, Ohio, for the previous eight seasons.
Mikko Rantanen led San Antonio in goals (24), assists (36), points (60) and plus/minus (+20). In his first year playing in North America, he recorded at least one point in 42 of his 52 AHL games. Rantanen was named the AHL’s Outstanding Rookie for the 2015-16 season, sharing the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award with Providence’s Austin Czarnik. Rantanen finished second to Czarnik (20 goals and 41 assists) in rookie scoring and ended the season ranked ninth overall in the AHL. The Finnish forward is only the seventh teenager in league history to reach the 60-point mark in a single campaign.
Rantanen’s list of accomplishments for the season also included becoming the second-youngest player to ever participate in the AHL’s All-Star Classic, captaining and winning a gold medal with Team Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, and being named to the AHL All-Rookie Team on April 9—the second youngest player in franchise history to be awarded the honor. The next day, he became the first Rampage player to be named to the AHL’s Second All-Star Team.
Defenseman Maxim Noreau finished second on the team in points with 45 (12 goals and 33 assists) and finished the season tied for fourth in scoring among blueliners. He led San Antonio with eight man-advantage markers.
San Antonio’s goaltender rotation was also quite large, with Spencer Martin, Calvin Pickard, Reto Berra and Roman Will all serving stints with the club. Pickard minded the net for 21 games, posting a record of 9-8-4 with a .917 save percentage before finishing the year at Colorado. In October, he was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month. Berra, reassigned following a conditioning stint on Feb. 29, would finish the year in San Antonio, posting a record of 7-7-0 with a .901 save percentage. Will appeared in net for 29 contests, and Martin goaltended for 18 games, earning AHL Player of the Week honors on March 28.
Fort Wayne Komets
The Komets continued its best-of-seven series in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Cincinnati Cyclones this week. After dropping the first two games of the series, Fort Wayne shutout Cincinnati 8-0 on Wednesday and picked up a 3-2 win in double overtime on Friday to even the round. On Saturday, the teams played a second-straight game that needed two additional frames to decide a winner, with the Cyclones taking a 5-4 win and a 3-2 series lead. In a must-win situation for the Komets, the club answered in overtime with a 2-1 win over the Cyclones on Monday to tie the series 3-3.
Fort Wayne dominated Wednesday’s contest, scoring three goals in the opening period and adding four more in the second stanza. Troy Bourke had a two-point outing (one goal and one assist), as well as Trevor Cheek (two assists). Mason Geertsen also appeared in the lineup but did not record any points.
Bourke again had a great showing in Friday’s double overtime 3-2 win. The left wing put his club on the board in the second frame and tied the game with his second power-play goal of the evening at the 7:03 mark of the third period. Alex Belzile tallied the winner at 15:20.
On Saturday in Game 5, Cincinnati came up victorious, getting the 5-4 win at the 9:37 mark of the second overtime. Gabriel Beaupre was the only Colorado prospect to land on the scoresheet with the primary assist.
For the third time in as many outings, overtime was needed to decide a Game 6 winner on Monday. The game-winning goal came on the power play just 5:30 into the additional 20-minute stanza to secure a 2-1 Fort Wayne win. Geertsen, in his fourth playoff appearance, picked up his first postseason point with an assist on Belzile's second period goal. Garrett Thompson scored the OT-winner.
Goaltender Spencer Martin has yet to appear in a postseason contest and split time with Fort Wayne and San Antonio during the regular season.
Game 7 of the quarterfinal round will be played in Fort Wayne on Wednesday to decide which team advances to the ECHL Western Conference Semifinals. If the Komets advance, they will take on the Utah Grizzlies.
Nick Magyar (Kitchener Rangers): In his third season with the Kitchener Rangers, Nick Magyar totaled 20 points (11 goals and nine assists) in 49 games. He lit the lamp once in nine playoff contests. The Rangers finished their 2015-16 campaign in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 44-17-5-2 and 95 points. They qualified for the OHL Playoffs and defeated the Windsor Spitfires in five games during the opening round. Kitchener was then swept by the London Knights in four second-round matches to conclude its postseason run.
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies: The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are facing the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL Semifinals. In the first game of the series on Friday, the Huskies defeated the Wildcats 4-1 and fell 5-4 to Moncton in the second contest on Saturday. In Game 3 on Tuesday, Rouyn-Noranda picked up a 5-1 victory. Game 4 is on Wednesday and Game 5 is on Friday. If necessary, Game 6 is slated for Sunday.
AJ Greer scored in the second period on Friday and picked up an assist on Saturday before adding another goal on Tuesday. The left wing now has 15 points (seven goals and eight assists) in 12 playoff appearances. He collected 27 points (16 goals and 11 assists) in 33 regular-season contests. JC Beaudin picked up a helper in each game, and in 12 postseason outings, he has registered 16 points (six goals and 10 assists). He finished the regular season with 82 points (33 goals and 49 assists) in 58 games. Alternate captain Julien Nantel played in all three contests this week and scored in Game 3 against the Wildcats. In 12 playoff appearances, Nantel has seven points (four goals and three assists). In 52 regular-season outings, he totaled 46 points (22 goals and 24 assists).
Sergei Boikov (Drummondville Voltigeurs): Sergei Boikov completed his third year with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and totaled 26 points (six goals and 20 assists) in 52 regular-season games. The defensemen skated in four postseason contests and did not record any points. Drummondville was the last team to qualify for the playoffs with a record of 27-39-2-0 for 56 points. The Voltigeurs faced the top-ranked Huskies in the opening round but dropped four-straight games to end its run. In addition to playing for Drummondville, Boikov represented Russia at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Finland. He skated in seven contests and helped his home country take home the silver medal. The 20-year-old blueliner signed an amateur tryout contract with the Rampage on April 4 and skated in the AHL club’s final four meetings.
Nicolas Meloche (Gatineau Olympiques): Nicolas Meloche split time with the Baie-Comeau Drakker and the Gatineau Olympiques this year, totaling 33 points (13 goals and 20 assists) in 53 games. He finished the 2015-16 campaign with Gatineau, where he collected 17 points (five goals and 12 assists) in 28 games during the regular season. In nine postseason contests, the defenseman had a marker and two helpers. Gatineau qualified for the playoffs in fifth place of the QMJHL with a record of 46-19-2-1 and 95 points. In the first round, the Olympiques swept the Quebec Remparts in four games but eventually fell in six contests of the quarterfinal series against the Moncton Wildcats.
Alexis Pepin (Val-d’Or Foreurs): Alexis Pepin collected 47 points (23 goals and 24 assists) in 62 regular-season outings. The center also played in six playoff contests, picking up two goals and one assist. The Val-d’Or Foreurs finished the year in fourth place in the QMJHL with a record of 49-15-3-1 and 102 points. In the opening round of the playoffs, the club fell in six games to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to conclude its season.
Gustav Olhaver (Swift Current Broncos): Gustav Olhaver finished his first season in North America with eight points (three goals and five assists) in 51 games. The forward started the year with the Seattle Thunderbirds, recording five points (two goals and three assists) in 31 outings before being claimed on waivers by the Swift Current Broncos in late December. In 20 games with the Broncos, Olhaver tallied one goal and two helpers. Swift Current finished the regular season in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Will Butcher (University of Denver): Will Butcher recorded 32 points (nine goals and 23 assists) in 39 games during his junior season, ranking third in the nation in defensemen scoring. He was named a 2016 Second Team All-American (West) by the American Hockey Coaches Association and earned First Team All-NCHC honors in March. The University of Denver Pioneers advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four but fell 4-2 to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, who went on to win the title. The trip to the National Semifinals was DU’s first since 2005 and the school's 14th overall, giving it the sixth most in NCAA history.
JT Compher (University of Michigan): The Colorado Avalanche signed University of Michigan captain JT Compher to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday. The junior, who will forego his senior season, had a career year, collecting 63 points (16 goals and 47 assists) in 38 games, more than doubling his previous high of 31 points in 2013-14.
Compher finished second in scoring in the Big Ten and first in assists, assists per game (1.24), power-play assists (19) and points (24) and plus/minus rating (+35). The forward was in the midst of an eight-game point streak (five goals and 11 assists) when Michigan’s season came to an end in the NCAA Regional Final against the eventual tournament-winning North Dakota Fighting Hawks. With two assists in a 5-2 win over Ferris State on Feb. 19, he became the 84th player in Michigan history to join the 100-point club.
Compher was also named to the United States Men’s National Team for the 2016 IIHF World Championship, which takes place May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Ben Storm (St. Cloud State): NCHC champion St. Cloud State’s season ended with a loss in overtime to Ferris State on March 26 in the semifinals of the NCAA West Regional. Defenseman Ben Storm totaled seven points (two goals and five assists) in 29 outings during his junior year.
Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea AIK, SHL): Skelleftea AIK fell to Frolunda HC in five games of the SHL Final. The series was tied after two games, but Frolunda would take the next three decisions for the championship title. Skelleftea fell 3-1 in Game 3 last Tuesday, dropped a 3-2 decision in Game 4 on Thursday and concluded its postseason run with a 5-3 loss on Sunday. Anton Lindholm played in 30 contests during the regular season, notching four assists. The defenseman made 16 playoff appearances, including all five games of the Final, and added a helper.
Wilhelm Westlund (Djurgarden, SHL): Wilhelm Westlund skated in 42 contests with HC Vita Hasten in the Allsvenskan league before playing in 11 SHL games with Djurgarden. He had 14 regular-season points (three goals and 11 assists), all of which came with Vita Hasten. Djurgarden lost its best-of-seven SHL quarterfinal series against Frolunda HC in five games to end its season. Westlund played in three of Djurgarden's postseason matches.
Sami Aittokallio (Karpat Oulu): Sami Aittokallio appeared in 33 games with Liiga’s Karpat Oulu, finishing the regular season with a 18-4-9 record, 1.97 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. In three playoff contests, the goaltender posted a 1.61 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Karpat concluded its season in second place with 119 points. In the postseason, the club advanced past TPS in six games of the quarterfinal round but fell to Tappara in Game 7 of the semifinals. In the Bronze Medal Game, Karpat defeated JYP 3-2. Aittokallio also appeared in 13 Champions Hockey League outings, producing a 1.09 goals-against average and .951 save percentage.
Maximilian Pajpach (Tappara U20): Maximilian Pajpach appeared between the pipes in 22 games this year, finishing with a .874 save percentage and 3.77 goals-against average. Tappara lost to KalPa in the Liiga Junior-A wild-card series of the playoffs to end its season.
Andrei Mironov (Dynamo Moscow): In his fourth year with Dynamo Moscow, defenseman Andrei Mironov registered 13 points (three goals and 10 assists) in 40 games. In the Western Conference Quarterfinals, Dynamo swept HC Sochi in four games. In the semifinal round, the club fell in six meetings to SKA Saint Petersburg. Mironov tallied two points (one goal and one assist) in nine playoff contests.
Denis Parshin (Avangard Omsk): Denis Parshin collected 31 points (10 goals and 21 assists) in 57 regular-season outings. The forward also recorded four points (two goals and two assists) in eight postseason games. Avangard Omsk finished the KHL regular season in first place in the East with 106 points. During the playoffs, the team swept Neftekhimik in four quarterfinal decisions but lost in Game 7 of the semifinals to Salavat Yulaev.
Luke Walker (Klagenfurt AC): Luke Walker finished the regular season with 11 points (three goals and eight assists) in 36 games. The right wing also scored one goal in three playoff contests. Klagenfurt AC ended its 2015-16 campaign in eighth place with 68 points. The club faced EC Red Bull Salzburg in the quarterfinals, pushing the series to seven games before falling 5-2 and ending its postseason run.