Coyotes AHL/ECHL season review

By Jeff Dahlia

Like the rest of the things that didn’t go right with the Coyotes organization this year, the San Antonio Rampage had a rough go of it. In a valid attempt to inject life into the hapless Rampage team, Coyotes former Assistant General Manager Laurence Gilman went out and signed players who should have made a significant difference in the win-loss column for the San Antonio this past season. 

The Rampage finished the season 32-42-2-4, a small improvement from the prior year, but the same problems existed. Team defense was lacking as well as a potent offensive attack. Given the fact the majority of the roster was in tact this year, it is apparent that players continued to have a hard time buying into head coach Pat Conacher’s system.

Much to Gilman’s credit, he was right on the mark with a lot of the additions, but those players weren’t able to carry the team over the .500 mark and into the playoffs.

Forwards

As usual at this level, career AHL players carried the team’s offensive output. Randall Gelech increased his point total for the third year running, scoring 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 79 games played but ranked last on the team with a minus-25.

Bill Thomas spent the majority of the year with the Rampage but ended the season playing with the Coyotes. Thomas did manage to put up 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists), 20 penalty minutes and a minus-8 ranking in 47 games played.

Alex Leavitt joined the team later in the season from the Houston Aeros only to go on a tear, scoring 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 16 games played. Leavitt’s combined total from Houston left him at 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists), 36 penalty minutes and a plus-14 raking. The Coyotes locked Leavitt up to a three-year entry-level contract in response to his success early on.

Tyler Redenbach returned to the Coyotes organization as part of a trade. Redenbach caught the eye of Phoenix after a stellar rookie season last year with Providence. He had trouble scoring and was subsequently sent down to the Phoenix Roadrunners in the ECHL to help with their playoff run. He finished the season with 25 points (6 goals, 19 assists), 25 penalty minutes and a minus-5 ranking.

Jakub Koreis came back up on the radar this season after going virtually unnoticed the past two years. He’s always been billed as a strong two-way centerman, which he looked like this year. He ended up with 25 points (6 goals, 19 assists) in 77 games played.

Daniel Winnik started his rookie season with the Rampage only to be sent down to the Roadrunners to find his game. When he was brought back up, he continued with the same results. He finished the season below expectations at 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) in 66 games for San Antonio.

Defense

The Coyotes biggest bright spots over the past few seasons have been at the rearguard position. Matt Jones started the season with the Rampage, but was summoned to Phoenix at the end of October. He would return several times, but he spent the majority of the year on the Coyotes roster. In a limited showing, the defensive defenseman saw action in 24 games, notching only 2 assists, 23 penalty minutes and a minus-6 rating.

After starting the season with the Coyotes, the team returned rookie Keith Yandle to the Rampage to work on his defensive approach. He made great strides in that department and led all defensemen in scoring with 33 points (6 goals 27 assists) in 69 games played.

Fellow rookie Logan Stephenson turned in a great year posting a plus-2. Stephenson’s ranking was tops among defensemen and also made him one of only four players to end the season on San Antonio’s roster with a plus ranking. The Coyotes other top defensive defensemen saw action in 73 games and posted 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) and 90 penalty minutes.

Joe Callahan finished the year with 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists), 65 penalty minutes in 78 games played. He continued to show progress while his positional game is getting better.

Even though you can’t replace his heart and dedication, Matt Spiller turned in yet another average season. Once billed as a top-end defensive prospect, today, it appears he’s leveled out and will be a career AHLer. He scored 8 points (1 goal,7 assists) and was a minus-17. Spiller also led the team with 187 penalty minutes.

Sean Sullivan joined the team after closing out his collegiate career with Boston University and inking an entry-level contract. In only seven games, he was held pointless and was a minus-3.

Goalies

Josh Tordjman stole all the thunder this year in net and for all the prospects. After starting the season in the ECHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners, Tordjman was called up to San Antonio. Wasting no time, he quickly established himself as a top-notch netminder. He finished the season with a 15-18-2 record, a 2.58 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

David LeNeveu bounced around from the Coyotes and the Rampage a bit before finally settling in with the Rampage for the majority of the season. Tordjman stole a lot of his thunder when he was called up to Phoenix, but LeNeveu came back and handled himself like a professional. He ended up posting a 13-20-2 record, a 2.97 goals-against-average, and a .907 save percentage.

ECHL

Lance Monych continued his pro career with the Roadrunners this year. He tallied 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) and 107 penalty minutes in 65 games played. Monych also had a team-low minus-27. Rookie Olivier Latendresse started the season with the Rampage only to be shipped out to Phoenix. He had a rougher than expected transition and needed this season in the ECHL to help him find his balance. Latendresse scored 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 47 games and was a plus-1. In his first season in North America, rookie Liam Lindstrom spent the entire season with the Roadrunners posting 11 points (1 goal, 10 assists), 34 penalty minutes in 49 games.

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