The season ended for the Rupert Rampage after a loss to the Terrace River Kings on Feb. 25, but the team still made good strides this year.
When all was said and done, the Rampage finished the year with 16 points, which was their best haul since the 2010-2011 season, when the team won the West Division with 22 points.
“I think the team is coming together well. We had a larger core this year that was committed to showing up to practices and taking extra time to take the weekends off,” said general manager Ron German.
The biggest step forward was the key players who committed more to the team this season. German said it’s the most commitment he’s seen in the past few years and that goes a long way to the success of the team.
He also said adding on to that, the strength of the team this year was buying into the coach’s system.
“It’s that core players that have bought into the system and are there all the time. That’s a huge success for this league, when you have the same guys,” German said.
But improvements are needed, too. German would like to see even more of the Rampage branch out to more off-ice training. Looking forward to next season, he also wants improvement on the team’s Achilles Heel.
“Discipline on penalties,” German said.
Taking penalties isn’t a new problem for the team, which commonly is near the top of the league in the category. This season, the Rampage had 401 penalty minutes, good for second-most. Pairing that with a second-worst 85.5 per cent penalty kill, it was a weakness for an otherwise strong team.
German was really pleased with the leadership he saw from his team this year.
“Jean-Luc Fournier showed more off-ice leadership, Tyler Halliday stepped up a few times, Josh Cook a lot of times. Jordan Aubee matured a ton this year,” he said.
It became even more apparent when assistant coach Derek Baker left town near the end of the season. Baker not only helped behind the bench, but he was responsible for much of the off-ice activities such as sponsorships, events and organizing the players.
German said Fournier really stepped up to help with some of it, like organizing the Read with the Rampage event. The team has reached out to a few people to ask for help behind the bench for next season, but is waiting on their response.
One other thing German was especially pleased with this season was the entertainment in between periods at home games.
“The new spice they’ve brought this year… we’re bar none for in-game entertainment,” he said, citing the duck toss specifically, which helps bring kids to the games.
That wraps up the 2016-2017 season for the Rupert Rampage, but they’ll be back. For hockey fans, September can’t come soon enough.