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West Division Championship, Playoff Berth Cap Off Solid Season in San Antonio

by Mike Lewis / Florida Panthers

It’s been an exciting year for the San Antonio Rampage.

The Silver and Black have come a long way from the bottom of the American Hockey League standings over the past two seasons. Finishing both the 2013-14 and 2012-13 season in 14th place in the Western Conference, the Rampage exploded this season to finish in third place, clinch their division and earn their first playoff berth since 2011-12.

Guided by Head Coach Tom Rowe and Assistant Coach Scott Allen, the West Division Champions accomplished numerous franchise records this season including: most wins (45), most points (98), total goals scored (248) and most home wins (23). The Division Championship banner is the first piece of Rampage history to hang from the rafters of the AT&T Center.

Despite an early exit from the Calder Cup Playoffs, the success of the Florida Panthers’ AHL affiliate bodes very well for the future of the organization.

F Connor Brickley and F Rocco Grimaldi both finished their rookie seasons as two of the Rampage’s most reliable offensive threats. Brickley recorded 47 points (22-25—47) in 73 games to rank second on the team in scoring and sixth in AHL rookie scoring. Brickley also notched a goal and an assist over three Calder Cup playoff games. Grimaldi recorded 42 points (14-28—42) in 64 games with San Antonio, while also spending seven games with Florida. Grimaldi recorded his first NHL goal on Nov. 22 against the Nashville Predators.

F Vincent Trocheck and D Alex Petrovic both had strong years in the AHL as well as the NHL. The 21-year old Trocheck set new career-highs in the NHL for goals (7), assists (15) and points (22), while also posting 19 points (8-11—19) in 23 games for the Rampage. In the AHL postseason, Trocheck notched a goal and an assist in three games. Petrovic in his third season with the Silver and Black posted an AHL career-best 20 points (3-17—20) and was named to the 2015 AHL All-Star Team. Petrovic recorded three assists over 33 games with Florida.

“Tom Rowe and Scott Allen down there are good coaches, they are really smart,” said Petrovic. “They’ve just helped me get more consistent in my play and even Trocheck. He’s played great and same with Steven Kampfer. There’s still a lot of guys who are coming up through the system that are improving each day.”

One of those players who has continued to improve is 24-year old, F Garrett Wilson. The Elmvale, Ontario native became a key piece to the San Antonio offense as he notched an AHL career-best 38 points (23-15—38) and finished second in goals among San Antonio players. Serving as an Alternate Captain for the Rampage, Wilson’s performance did not go unnoticed as he earned a call-up to the Florida roster in February, playing in two games against the Chicago Blackhawks.

College standouts D Michael Matheson and F Kyle Rau impressed in their late-season AHL debuts and join a crop of young players that will not only continue to develop their talents but also make a push to be Florida Panthers over the next few years.

The veteran presence of players like G Dan Ellis and Captain D Greg Zanon helped mentor the crop of youngsters in San Antonio. D Steven Kampfer made the most of his opportunities while in San Antonio to earn a call-up to Florida. After a solid showing with the Panthers, Kampfer was rewarded with a two-year contract extension.

“It speaks volumes about the depth of the organization [for San Antonio] to clinch a playoff spot,” said Kampfer. “They’ve had a heck of a year. Even when I was down there we were playing well. Credit to the coaching staff and the leadership down there, they’ve done a heck of a job.”

“[The young players] have taken big steps in their game,” said Kampfer.

What was accomplished in San Antonio this season sets the foundation for the future of the Panthers organization as they begin their new AHL affiliation with the Portland Pirates next season.

San Antonio Standouts

March 17 - San Antonio’s 9-3 win over the Charlotte Checkers sets a franchise record for goals in a game as South Florida native Andrew Yogan nets three points to be named the game’s first star (2-1—3)

Feb. 7 – San Antonio tops the Oklahoma City Barons 5-3 during Pink in the Rink night in front of a crowd of 13,125.

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