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Stability has helped Perrault's scoring skyrocket

by Lindsay Kramer

In the last two seasons, Perrault has played for four different teams, before he cleared waivers with San Antonio.
There’s nothing like climbing up and then down the side of a building to bring a team together.

That was the leisure-time activity of the San Antonio Rampage on a recent free afternoon. The guys went to train with a local SWAT team, a workout that included the Spiderman act.

“It took a good two hours for everybody to go once or twice,’’ reported Rampage center Joel Perrault. “It was something you don’t do every day. I think it’s pretty important to have those activities once in a while. When you’re at home, you need those little things that bring the team together.’’

Perrault’s enjoyment of the unique off-ice training is understandable. It’s been a few years since he’s felt like an important part of any type of team effort.

In each of the last two seasons, Perrault, 24, has played for four different teams. In 2005-06, he hop-scotched among Portland, Augusta, San Antonio and Phoenix. Last season, the journey included Phoenix, St. Louis, Peoria and San Antonio. He started that campaign with the Coyotes, but St. Louis claimed him off waivers when Phoenix tried to send him to the Rampage. Then, when the Blues attempted to assign him to the minors, Phoenix took him back. He again was sent to San Antonio, and the second time around he cleared waivers.

Follow all that?

“It’s a lot of travel. I spent the whole year in a hotel,’’ Perrault said. “It’s good to be stable now. Some guys have the easy way. They go straight to the NHL and stay there their whole careers. Other guys bounce back and forth. Mentally, it’s tough. I think I learned a lot from it. Mentally, I’m stronger for sure. I was happy to be back in the Phoenix organization.’’

It shows. His 26 points lead the Rampage and easily put him on pace for what would be his best pro season. The extra pep in his stride has helped revitalize the whole San Antonio offense. Last season, when Perrault contributed 14 points in 21 games for the Rampage, San Antonio’s 219 goals were the fifth-lowest total in the league. Now, the team’s 92 goals are tied for second in the AHL.

“So far, it’s a pretty easy year this year compared to last year. I’m getting older. I’m learning how to play in this league,’’ he said. “I don’t try to think about going back up. But if I get that call, I’ll be pretty happy. I don’t want to (jump around) for the rest of my career. That’s why I’m focusing on San Antonio.’’

Easy pick for Lever -- It didn’t take Hamilton Bulldogs coach Don Lever long to make one of his easiest decisions of the season.

As soon as forward Ajay Baines returned from missing the team’s first 19 games with knee and back injuries, Lever selected him as captain. Baines previously was a captain in Norfolk and was an assistant for Hamilton last year, when the Bulldogs did not have a captain.

Baines now will be charged with helping to cure the Bulldogs of their Calder Cup hangover. Hamilton is off to an underwhelming 8-11-0-3 start.

“It was pretty cool. I was definitely a little surprised,’’ Baines said of getting the “C.” “Missing as much time as I did with an injury, I’m just happy to be back playing. I’m in one piece. You just want to get back and help the team any way you can.’’

Rampage center, Joel Perrault, leads the team with 26 points.

Buffalo, Rochester break up -- A mostly smooth 29-year marriage between the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans has broken apart at the seams in the middle of this season. Both sides said last week that this will be the final year of their affiliation.

According to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the split springs from a couple sources. The two sides can’t agree on the philosophy of signing minor-league veterans to help the Amerks. Buffalo isn’t interested in shelling out money for them; Rochester thinks a good parent club should help its affiliate be competitive via this route.

For the past three seasons, the Florida Panthers have been a co-parent club with the Sabres. It’s believed they’re willing to take over full control of the Amerks.

“We’re at the point as an organization where we can field a full, competitive AHL team,’’ Florida Assistant GM Randy Sexton told the paper. “Rochester is our preference. There are some certain things that need to come together, but we like Rochester.’’

’You stink!’ ‘Thank you’ -- There will come a time next week when a number of people tell Chicago Wolves forward Jordan LaVallee and defenseman Nathan Oystrick that they stink.

They likely will laugh, and happily agree.

The two Wolves are willing victims, er, volunteers, in a potentially eye-watering attempt to raise money for charity. The way they are going about that is both pungent and unique. They will attempt to set a record by wearing their uniforms for 27 straight hours.

Through a game. And a practice. And autograph sessions.

“It’s not going to be easy,’’ Oystrick said. “The smelliness and the itchiness that comes along with this, that’s not going to be fun.’’

According to the Wolves, Shjon Podein kept his equipment on for 25 hours after Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 2001 and Pat Tiesling wore his for 26 after the Sioux Falls Stampede won the USHL’s Clark Cup last year. Oystrick and LaVallee are trying to beat that total by one hour.

The two will be allowed to take off their helmets and gloves after a Dec. 19 contest against Peoria but must keep on everything else through sleep, a practice and two public appearances.

They are raising pledges to support worthy causes. Oystrick’s will go to the Family Resource Center, a not-for-profit adoption organization, and the Anti-Cruelty Society. LaVallee’s will benefit the Dan Snyder Memorial Fund and various Chicago-area charities.

“I do believe the autograph time will come with the nose clips for fans,’’ LaVallee said. “I’m expecting some skin to start bubbling by the time we take the gear off.’’

Around the AHL -- Hartford’s Artem Anisimov has been named to the Russian Under-20 National Team to play at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic. Anisimov, 19, will be making his second appearance in the tournament. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound forward registered two goals and one assist in six games en route to winning the silver medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships. … Peoria went 21 consecutive games against Calgary’s AHL affiliate without a regulation loss (18-0-0-3) before losing to Quad City, 4-3, on Dec. 8. … The Phantoms have at least one power-play goal in 23 of their 25 games this season, with nine of those games featuring multiple power-play goals. … Since allowing five goals in the first period on Nov. 21 in Norfolk, the Phantoms have allowed just one first-period goal in a stretch of seven games. … The Crunch’s 2-1 win over Grand Rapids on Dec. 8 was notable for two reasons. First, Syracuse scored both goals just seven seconds apart during the first period, setting a Griffins record for fastest two goals by an opponent. In addition, it broke the Crunch’s seven-game losing streak at Van Andel Arena, where it had not won since their inaugural visit on Jan. 10, 2003. … Albany’s 2-0 win over Portland on Dec. 7 was the River Rats’ franchise-record seventh shutout of the season, and moved Michael Leighton into a tie for seventh place in AHL history with 27 career shutouts. … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Jonathan Filewich won the fastest skater event at the 2007 AHL All-Star Skills Competition with a time of 14.553 seconds. He bettered that mark with a time of 14.193 seconds at the team’s skills competition on Dec. 9.


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