Thursday, December 5, 2013

Iowa Wild 5 at San Antonio Rampage 4 (SO) - December 4, 2013

After relaxing for a couple of days in San Antonio, one of America's lesser-known tourist destinations, I returned to the AT&T Center for an AHL game. The Rampage are owned by the San Antonio Spurs and have played here since 2002, when the arena was first opened. The franchise has been around since 1971 and was previously the Adirondack Red Wings, who became inactive after the 1998-99 season. After 3 dormant years, the franchise was resurrected by the Spurs and moved to San Antonio, where they now enjoying their 12th season with a solid if not spectacular fan base.

I wrote about the AT&T Center when I visited two days ago, and there is not much to add. Usually when the Rampage play, only the lower bowl is open, and concessions are limited. Parking is $5 and tickets range from $10 to $52 for seats along the glass. Buy the cheapest and sit where you want as the stadium is not very busy.

During the week you can get a seat and unlimited food for just $20, so I decided to try that option for the only time in my life. Three hot dogs, some popcorn, peanuts and three small sodas would set you back about $20, so the game was essentially free. Well, except for the indigestion, that would be an indirect cost.

With the all-you-can-eat, you get a seat in section 120 (view above). It is actually where I like to sit, up high in the lower level at one blue line. This seat normally costs $21 anyway, so it seems like they are paying you one dollar to eat a lot of bad food. Fair trade I guess.

After the second period, I moved to a different seat in the section that faces the rink at an angle. The arena is designed for basketball, so there are sections that face the rink at 45 degrees (below). It is a unique view when the play is in that end. Also, nobody else sits there, so you can spread out, which is pretty much a necessity after partaking in the all-you-can-eat for a couple of hours.

The Teams

Iowa came in 14th in the 15-team Western Conference at 7-11, while the Rampage were a couple of places above their guests at 10-10-1. San Antonio boasted a few familiar names, including ex-Leaf Joey Crabb (above) and one-time Penguin and Oiler Ryan Whitney, who was cut by Florida a month ago and is playing for one last shot at glory (below).

Both goalies had played in the NHL this season, with Darcy Kuemper (above) suiting up twice for Minnesota, giving up 6 goals on 16 shots for a league-low .625 save percentage (among all keepers). Jacob Markstrom (below) played 11 games this season for Florida before being sent down with an .877 save percentage, the worst among regulars in the league.

The Game

Penalties were the order of the evening, with Iowa taking two in the first 1:24. The Rampage capitalized when Vincent Trochek received a pass and had no trouble putting it in the empty net as Kuemper watched helplessly (below).

The Wild tied it exactly two minutes later which set the pattern for the rest of the game. San Antonio would score to take a 1-goal lead and Iowa would tie it up a few minutes later. The second period ended 4-3 for the home team, and it looked like they might hold on for the win, but Markstrom tripped a Wild player crossing in front of the crease, and Brian Connelly scored on the ensuring power play, roofing one past a sprawling Markstrom (below).

Regulation finished with the teams tied at 4 (there were 5 power play goals on 13 total chances) and the overtime period settled nothing, so we went to a shootout.

In the AHL, each team selects five shooters, which I find a bit more interesting than the NHL version, in which only three players shoot to start. The Rampage went first and missed, and then Jason Zucker shot for Iowa, scoring on a backhand (above). Drew Shore replied for San Antonio, and then the next ten shooters all missed before Tyler Graovac won it for Iowa, sliding one through the five-hole (below).

That's your final with Graovac on the big screen. A fun game at the end, but not a lot of flow with all the penalties.

Next Up

I continue to move west and have a busy weekend of sports, starting with college hockey in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats host Arizona State,  the #1 team in the ACHA. It isn't the typical rivalry game you would expect from these two schools, but promises to be entertaining. On Saturday, I drive up to Tempe for the Pac 12 Championship with Stanford visiting the Sun Devils. I finally get back to the NFL on Sunday as the Rams and Cardinals battle it out for third in the NFL West. Updates will be posted next week, so check back then.




  1. Sean,

    A few years ago, both San Antonio and Houston played at Bridgeport. I went to both those games. A bearded fellow (Fuzzy) who is a die hard Rangers fan was ranting and raving that he did not see those teams. I told him to go to Houston to see Aeros and then asked him if he wanted to see Rampage. He said "Yes, I want to see Rampage!" I told him "Good. Keep it up, in two minutes you'll see Rampage!"