Coming off an exciting 3-2 overtime win against the Texas Stars on Tuesday, the San Antonio Rampage looked to garner their momentum to bury their interstate rivals once again.
And if the first few minutes of the game were any indication, it looked as though the Rampage would do just that.
In addition to running off steam from their previous overtime win, the Rampage also drew an exceedingly large and rowdy crowd from their somewhat unconventional marketing campaign: Pink in the Rink. Sponsored by the Cancer and Therapy Research Center, Rampage players sported pink jerseys and dueled it out on sheet of pink ice. While the juxtaposition seemed nearly improper, the game had personal significance and sentimentality for more than just the 6,000 people in attendance (many of who are breast cancer survivors). Vincent Trochek’s aunt is a breast cancer survivor; Jesse Blacker’s mother passed away from the disease when he was just 17—which ultimately gave the game a certain level of intensity from the beginning.
Building off this intensity, the Rampage struck early—very early, in fact. Just 3:28 into the game, Connor Brickley fed right-winger Mark Mancari to put the Rampage on top. Coupled with an early lead and an enthusiastic crowd, the Rampage also proved their physicality and their offensive prowess by outshooting the stars 13-6.
Despite the offensive pressure from the Rampage in the first period, Stars goalie Anders Lindback was dominant. Despite the Stars’ sheer lack of defense in the first period, Lindback was able to keep them neck and neck with the Rampage.
This brick wall dominance transitioned to the second period as well—where tempers flaring and dropping gloves ultimately characterized the interstate rivalry.
Upon a nasty collision between Curtis McKenzie and Blake Parlett, words were exchanged and gloves were tossed. Both players, in an attempt to rally their respective teams, battled it out, each seemingly landing uppercut after uppercut. The fight not only energized the crowd, but also the teams, which spurred an increase in energy and overall carnality.
The subsequent playtime was represented by numerous scoring chances, outstanding saves, and virtually no whistles until the Stars capitalized with a goal by Matej Stransky. Just two minutes later the Stars struck again. As Jesse Blacker unintentionally screened his own goalie, Julius Honka fluttered a puck beyond the reach of Rampage goalie Michael Houser. As the Rampage began to lose momentum from the previous goal that tied the game, Blake Parlett attempted to revamp the team once again, this time dropping the gloves against Gemel Smith—which resulted in a ten-minute major and game misconduct for Parlett.
Despite the gutsy enthusiasm by Parlett, the Rampage soon found themselves bordering on the lines of intensity and foolish temperament as they trailed going into the third period. However, just as Rampage began losing hope, Garrett Wilson managed to deflect a puck shot by defenseman Shane O’Brien. Following the goal, O’Brien reportedly stared down the Stars bench when passing by, prompting both benches (coaches included) to fight amongst each other until the referees were able to intervene. During the scruff, Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal punched the dividing pane of glass between the two benches, resulting in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and a bloody hand.
For the Rampage, the rest of the game proved uninspiring, portrayed by their lackadaisical play and their complete lack of desire to win. The Stars outscored the rampage 3-1 in the third period with goals from former Rampage star Greg Rallo, Jamie Oleksiak and an empty netter by Brendan Renford.
The Rampage look to redeem themselves in their second and final “Pink in the Rink” game this Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Barons at 7:00 pm.