with the launch of the 2017-18 CIHL regular season set for a 7 PM puck drop at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
The Rampage home opener makes for one of three games this weekend that showcase the debut of the five team circuits new campaign.
The Rampage bring a veteran heavy squad to the ice this season, with many familiar names from CIHL battles of years before returning to the Red and Black, it's a group that will bring some strong offensive skills to the ice week in and week out, along with a solid defensive corps that has gained confidence over the last few years.
The goal will once again be defended by Devon Gerrits, with a newcomer to the Rampage Dave Wood settling in to get some work through the new season.
One interesting side feature for the Rhinos heading into the new season, is that of a line up deep in players named Jared, something which might be a CIHL benchmark.
General Manager Ron German and Head Coach Roger Atchison will be counting on the experiences of recent seasons and an ambition from this years roster to bring the team towards a league championship and a chance to claim the Coy Cup.
Of the twenty four player roster announced for the season, only four names **; Dave Wood, Randall Groot Josh Mossini and Cody Cringan are new to the Rampage and CIHL action
The 2017-18 Rampage line up includes:
Goalie -- Devon Gerrits
Goalie -- Brett Roth
Goalie -- Dave Wood **
Defence -- Marcus Atchison
Defence -- Jared Davis
Defence -- Hayden Long
Defence -- Tyler Ostrom
Defence -- Jacob Santurbano
Forward -- Cole Atchison
Forward -- Jordan Aubee
Forward -- Kale Burns
Forward -- Jared Carter
Forward -- Cody Cringan **
Forward -- Jean Luc Fournier
Forward -- Hunter German
Forward -- Randall Groot **
Forward -- Tyler Halliday
Forward -- Tyler Matalone
Forward -- Jared Meers
Forward -- Josh Mossini **
Forward -- Kory Movold
Forward -- Craig Munro
Forward -- Ben Towner
Forward -- Jordan Venditelli
The Rampage take on a Kitimat squad that had its struggles in 2016-17, finishing the season without a regular season victory and a record of 0-16.
Of the four games between the Rampage and the Ice Demons, the Rhinos had a fair bit of success on the scoreboard, outscoring their Northwest rivals by a pace of 27-6, though the toughest challenge of last year came on opening night, when the Ice Demons proved tough to put away in a 3-2 loss.
The CIHL enters the season down yet another squad, as we outlined over the summer, the Smithers Steelheads have taken a sabbatical this year, as they look to determine the future of Senior Mens hockey in the Bulkley Valley.
That leaves the circuit with three teams in the Northwest and two in the Cariboo for 2017-18.
One thing will probably remain certain however as the league drops the puck on new year, the Rampage faithful will fill the Jim on many a night. Last year Prince Rupert continued to show that when it comes to hockey, there's no better place to take in a game than the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
When they shook hands at centre ice for the final time last year, the Rampage were boasting a league leading attendance of 5,019, averaging 627 fans per game.
On that theme, tickets are available at Northern Savings, Oceanside Sports, Rupert Cleaners and Stuck On Designs or at the door at game time Saturday.
In other CIHL news, BC Hockey has announced the host community for the 2018 Coy Cup, with Williams Lake earning the honour to celebrate the Senior Male AA Championship.
“We’re looking forward to Williams Lake hosting this event,” ... “The community has shown lots of support for the Stampeders in the past, and we’re sure they’ll extend a warm welcome to the other teams that come to compete for the Coy Cup.” -- BC Hockey's Trevor Bast on the Williams Lake bid.
visit to Williams Lake on January 6 and 7, though in a quirk of scheduling the league will be idle in the Cariboo for the visit.
The Rampage will also get to check out a new venue when they make their trek into the Cariboo in mid October.
The Quesnel Kangaroos will take to the ice at the brand new West Fraser Centre a 1,300 seat facility which recently was recognized for its use of wood as part of the Wood Works Awards at the UBCM convention
Other action this opening weekend of the season finds the Terrace River Kings making that Cariboo road trip with games set for Saturday in Quesnel and Saturday in Williams Lake.
You can follow our Rampage coverage through our Rampage Results page and our larger overview of CIHL news available here.