After years of waiting and hard work, Mike Caruso finally had the chance to live out his dream when he made his NHL debut earlier this season. The 24 year-old native of Mississauga, Ontario made the Florida Panthers’ opening night roster after spending four years with the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League and another four and a half years in the American Hockey League with both the Rochester Americans and the San Antonio Rampage. I had the chance to chat with Mike last week and ask him some questions so that fans could learn a little more about one of the newest Florida Panthers.
Here’s what the rookie defender had to say:
When and how did you first get interested in Hockey?
I first became interested in hockey when my parents put me on skates at 4 years old, joined my first team the next year.
Who would your dream defense partner be?
My dream defense partner would be Bobby Orr.
What’s been your favorite hockey moment that you’ve been a part of?
My favorite hockey moment so far in my career would be on January 19, 2013 when I played in my first NHL game in Florida.
What’s the best part of playing for the Florida Panthers Organization?
The best part of playing for this organization is the quality of the guys within it. Over the past 5 years I’ve been fortunate to play with some incredible guys, and what I’m sure will be life long friends.
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The San Antonio Rampage‘s action filled weekend kicked off Thursday night with a home game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Newcomer Wade Megan picked up his first professional goal midway through the first to give the Rampage a 1-0 lead early in the game. Scott Timmins and Zach Miskovic helped Jed Ortmeyer extend the lead to 2-0 early in the second before the Griffins connected for their first goal of the evening minutes later to make the score 2-1. The Rampage regained their two goal lead on the power play with a goal from Jon Rheault just seconds before the period came to a close, and headed to the locker room with a 3-1 lead over the Griffins. The lone goal of the third period came in the final 30 seconds of play when Rheault scored his second of the night and sealed the victory with an empty net goal. Brian Foster had a stellar night, stopping 39 of 40 shots, including a penalty shot midway through the third. The Rampage concluded the night with a 4-1 victory.
Hours after Thursday night’s victory, the team boarded a flight to North Carolina and prepared themselves for the first of two games against the Charlotte Checkers. The squad received word earlier in the afternoon that defenders Colby Robak and Mike Caruso were en-route and will be joining the team after being reassigned by the Florida Panthers. Once the puck dropped, Jack Combs wasted no time getting the scoring started, and netted the Rampage’s first goal of the contest just 55 seconds in. Midway through the period, Combs struck again, this time on the power play, and John McFarland added an unassisted goal to give the silver and black a 3-0 lead early in the game. Charlotte managed to get one by goalie Dov Grumet-Morris and brought themselves within 2 goals with 40 minutes left to play. After a scoreless second period, Combs completed his hat-trick midway though the third, restoring the Rampage’s three goal lead. Jared Staal closed the gap for a few minutes for Charlotte, but Rheault netted his 20th of the season with 5 seconds remaining in the game and helped San Antonio skate away with a 5-2 win.
The San Antonio Rampage made the short trip to Cedar Park last Tuesday night for another meeting with the Texas Stars. It took less than three minutes for the Rampage to tally the first point of the night, with Andre Deveaux and Jed Ortmeyer setting up John McFarland for his third of the season just 2:45 into the game. Midway though the period Matt Fraser connected on a Stars’ powerplay to tie the game up, but Evan Barlow regained the silver and black’s lead less than a minute later. Greg Rallo netted his 22nd goal of the season for the lone goal of the second period to give the Rampage a 3-1 lead heading in to the final 20 minutes of the game. Texas scored three unanswered goals in the third to give them the 4-3 victory and two points at the end of the night. Rallo was rewarded for his season long efforts and was recalled by the Florida Panthers to fill in for an injured Jack Skille on Sunday when the Cats took on the New York Islanders. Greg played on the fourth line with Jerrod Smithson and Quinton Howden in a game that resulted in a 2-1 loss. That line however was the best line of the evening, as they created several scoring chances for the offensively challenged Panthers.
Saturday night the Oklahoma City Barons visited the Rampage at the AT&T Center for the final time this season. The Barlow-Combs- Gomes line connected once again for the game’s first goal, and then McFarland scored after a perfect pass from Scott Timmins to give the Rampage a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Barons picked up three goals over the final 40 minutes of play and left town with two more points to help them in their playoff push. Read the rest of this entry
After a shootout win in Texas and regulation loss against Oklahoma City last weekend, the Barons were back in San Antonio for another match up against the San Antonio Rampage Wednesday night. Solid play by both goalies held the score at 0-0 after the first twenty minutes of play, but two power play goals by Jed Ortmeyer and Jared Gomes gave the silver and black a 2 goal lead with less than 5 minutes remaining in the second. That 2 goal lead was short lived, as Taylor Fedun brought the Barons within one goal of tying the game less than a minute later. Less than 2 minutes into the final period, Toni Rajala evened the score and the two teams headed to overtime when the regulation buzzer sounded. Neither team could score in the overtime period, so the two squads headed to a shootout. Josh Green,Mark Arcobello, and Toni Rajala all tallied for the Barons, but only Evan Barlow could find the back of the net during the shootout for the Rampage.
Friday night the Houston Aeros visited the AT&T Center once again. After a scoreless first period, Rallo netted the first goal of the contest on the power play early in the second to put the Rampage up 1-0. The Aeros scored back to back goals to make the score 2-1 before Rallo and Brendon Nash set up Quinton Howden for his 13th goal of the season. The score sheet was dominated by the Rampage during the third period with Barlow and Rallo netting goals to give the silver and black a 4-2 victory. Read the rest of this entry
The San Antonio Rampage closed out their annual Rodeo Road Trip last week with a 5-0 loss to Peoria last Friday and a 7-3 loss to Grand Rapids on Sunday, but were able to pull off a win Saturday night against with a 6-3 victory over the Griffins.
This past Saturday, the team finally returned to home ice and hosted their Military Appreciation night as well as the Chicago Wolves. After a scoreless first period, Greg Rallo tipped in Zach Miskovic‘s shot midway through the game for the first goal of the night. The Rampage held their 1-0 lead until Andrew Ebbett tied things up early in the third. Garrett Wilson set up Zach Hamill for the Silver and Black’s game winning goal minutes later. Goaltender Dov Grumet- Morris and the rest of the team skated off the ice in front of over 10,700 fans with a 2-1 victory and 2 more points under their belts.
The San Antonio Rampage completed the most recent leg of their Rodeo Road Trip last weekend with three games against the Milwaukee Admirals, Peoria Rivermen, and the Chicago Wolves. Friday night, the Rampage took the ice against the Admirals at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Early in the opening period of play, Quinton Howden netted his 10th goal of the season with the game’s first goal. Mattias Ekholm scored the equalizer for Milwaukee later on in the period, but Mike Santorelli regained San Antonio’s lead with a power play goal a couple of minutes after that. With one minute remaining in the first period, Jed Ortmeyer tallied the Rampage’s second power play goal of the period to give the team a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Taylor Beck and the Admirals scored the lone goal of the second period to cut the silver and black’s lead in half. Midway through the third, Garrett Wilson made the score 4-2 in favor of San Antonio. However, two back-to-back goals during the final minute of play by Chris Mueller tied the game and sent the two teams to overtime where halfway though the extra five minutes of play the Admirals picked up the extra point with a goal from Mike Moore.
Following the game in Milwaukee, the Rampage headed to Illinois to take on the Peoria Rivermen on Saturday. Peoria tallied the first goal midway though the first when the Rampage were short handed. Jared Gomes netted the Rampage’s first goal of the evening shortly before Zach Hamill added a power play goal for San Antonio to give the Rampage the lead. Before the buzzer ended the second, Derek Nesbitt got the puck past Dov Grumet-Morris to even the score heading into the final period of play. Hamill and Nesbitt both recorded their second goals of the tilt during the final 20 minutes of the game to send the two teams into over time. After a scoreless overtime period, the teams headed to a shootout where San Antonio emerged the victors after Santorelli and Hamill netted the only two goals of the shootout. Read the rest of this entry
After finishing a four game homestand with an 0-1-3 record, and giving up two 2 goal leads twice, and being shutout twice, the Florida Panthers have decided something needs to change. General Manager Dale Tallon announced earlier today that Jacob Markstrom has been recalled from the Panthers AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage, and joined the team for practice this morning. Markstrom arrives with a 16-15-2 record that includes three shutouts and a 2.65 GAA. Markstrom has played very well of late, posting an 8-4-0 record in his last 12 starts, and has given up two goals or less in 11 of his past 16 starts.
The Panthers who after 15 games have a 4-7-4 record, find themselves having difficulty keeping the puck out of the net. They have given up a league leading 56 goals, while only scoring 35 themselves. Both Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen have had a diffcult start to the season, however, the amount of goals being scored against Florida is not all their fault. As fellow writer Dave Lasseter commented the other day, of the three Toronto goals that were scored against Florida Monday night, there wasn’t a red sweater between the shooter and the goaltender. Thus indicating that any chance that Theodore had of making a save was slim. This is a movie that we are seeing all to often, as for some reason their is an apparent breakdown of defensive coverage that is widespread amongst the team. Read the rest of this entry
The San Antonio Rampage kicked off their annual Rodeo Road Trip early this week with the American Hockey League’s first non-holiday Monday game of the season. Scoring began in Houston a little over seven minutes in to the opening period when Greg Rallo and Andre Deveaux set up Zach Hamill on the power play, for his first goal with San Antonio. The Rampage added to their lead early in the second when Hamill and Jonathan Hazen assisted on San Antonio’s second goal of the evening by Brendon Nash. Minutes later, the Aeros recorded a power play goal of their own to bring themselves within one. Back-to-back goals by Jed Ortmeyer early in the third gave the Rampage a 4-1 lead with just under 15 minutes to play. Chad Rau made the score 4-2 shortly after Ortmeyer’s second goal, but Mike Santorelli scored his first goal for the silver and black which was a short-handed. The team flew out of Houston with a 5-2 victory under their belts and headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Rampage faced off against the Charlotte Checkers Saturday night for the first round of a two game series. Jared Staal got the puck past Jacob Markström midway through the first to kick off the scoring for the contest. Minutes later, Scott Timmins picked up his first point since coming back from injury when he assisted on Rallo‘s shorthanded goal at the 13 minute mark. The score remained tied at 1 after a scoreless second period, but San Antonio built up a 2 goal lead in the third courtesy of Deveaux and Garrett Wilson. Zac Dalpe brought the Checkers within one, but Markström and the rest of the Rampage were able to maintain their lead and win the team’s third straight game.
Friday night the San Antonio Rampage hosted the Rockford IceHogs for their third annual Pink In The Rink game to help raise funds for breast health awareness. A record setting crowd of 16,205 were on hand to see the Rampage behind the 30 save performance of Jacob Markstrom shutout the IceHogs 1-0. The crowd was the largest for the franchise itself, and was also the largest crowd at an AHL game so far this season. The lone goal of the game was scored by Florida Panthers prospect John McFarland. It was his first goal of the season in 17 games.
The game also featured the season debut of defenceman Erik Gudbranson who saw his first action of the year since recovering from an off season shoulder injury. Gudbranson is expected to play two games before joining the Florida Panthers at some point during their four game road trip. The Panthers wanted the big defencemen to get a couple games under his belt before entering the lineup with the big club. His physical presence will be a welcomed site when he does finally join the Panthers.
After splitting a two game series last weekend with the Oklahoma City Barons, the San Antonio Rampage were back at the AT&T Center in San Antonio Friday night for game one of a home and home series with the Texas Stars. The Rampage got the scoring started about one minute into the tilt when Alex Petrovic and Jared Gomes set up Jonathan Hazen for his second goal of the season. Tyler Sloan recorded his first goal as a member of the Stars late in the second period to tie the game. After a scoreless third period, the two teams headed to overtime. The overtime hero was Jon Rheault for the Rampage who gave San Antonio the important extra point.
Saturday night the two teams faced off again at the Ceder Park Center. The Stars built up a 2-0 lead during the first 20 minutes of play thanks to a pair of goals from Justin Dowling. Midway though the game, Casey Wellman and the Rampage cut the Stars’ lead in half with a power play goal. Texas regained their two goal lead just minutes later on the power play with Dowling netting his third of the game for the hat trick. The Stars added one more goal late in the third with the Rampage net empty to seal their victory and give them a 4-1 win. Read the rest of this entry