The San Antonio Rampage are officially on a hot streak. The Rampage started the week, and their ten-game road trip, off with a shootout loss in Toronto before sweeping the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland. San Antonio has not lost in regulation over their last eight games (4-0-2-2) to move within six points of the Western Conference's final playoff berth.
The Silver and Black kicked off their month-long road trip in Toronto by dropping a hard-fought 5-4 shootout decision to the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum. It was the sixth straight game in which the Rampage collected at least a point. Jerry D'Amigo opened the scoring for the home team at the 7:38 mark of the first period. Drew Shore, playing in his first game since being returned by the parent Panthers, answered for San Antonio 50 seconds later with his first AHL goal of the season. Quinton Howden and Anthony Luciani, just up from ECHL Cincinnati, picked up the helpers. D'Amigo notched a second marker, this time with the Marlies on a power play, 1:18 into the second frame. San Antonio replied quickly again with a power-play goal of their own, 36 seconds later. Matt Gilroy lit the lamp with the lone assist going to rookie Vincent Trocheck, who drew the puck back to Gilroy on a face-off. John McFarland scored later in the period to give the Rampage a 3-2 lead. Trocheck and Joey Crabb combined to set up the goal that sent Marlies starter Drew MacIntyre to the bench. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer would fire past a screened Jacob Markstrom, who finished with 34 stops, to pull Toronto even just over three minutes later. In the third period, Ryan Martindale would strike shorthanded from Jared Gomes at 12:39 to give the Rampage their second lead. Toronto would tie the game later on the same power play when Brad Ross fired past "The Alien." After a scoreless overtime, the game went to the shootout. Spencer Abbott converted in the first round for the Marlies, while McFarland equalized for the Rampage in round four. Toronto won it in the sixth round when D'Amigo beat Markstrom. Garret Sparks picked up the win in relief of MacIntyre by making 18 saves and stopping 5 of 6 in the skills compeition, including a sixth round stop on Martindale.
The Rampage hit Cleveland on Friday evening for the first of two tilts with the Lake Erie Monsters. San Antonio, backstopped by 19 saves from Michael Houser, prevailed 4-1 over the Monsters in the first meeting between the clubs this season. Vincent Trocheck set up Ryan Whitney for a power-play tally at 15:01 of the opening frame. Trocheck scored his 14th goal, from Joey Crabb and Matt Gilroy, just over three minutes into the second period to make it 2-0 Rampage. Quinton Howden would light the lamp to give San Antonio a three-goal lead a 1:44 later. Greg Rallo and Ryan Martindale collected the helpers on Howden's seventh. Stefan Elliott finally beat Houser midway through the third period to get the home team on the board. Crabb put the game away with an empty-net goal with 59 seconds remaining, withJohn McFarland picking up the lone assist. Sami Aittokallio got tagged with the loss, making 30 saves for Lake Erie.
Saturday's rematch at Quicken Loans Arena saw San Antonio skate to 3-1 decision over the Monsters. Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 of 22 shots, in his best performance in sometime, to lead the Rampage to victory. Drew Shore opened the scoring at 3:24 of the first period. Bobby Butler drew the only assist on the goal. Jared Gomes lit the lamp with a tap-in late in the second period, from Joey Crabb and Jed Ortmeyer , to give San Antonio a two-goal advantage. Mike Sgarbossa tallied for the Monsters to break up Marky's shutout bid at 5:10 of the final frame. Markstrom and a stifling Rampage defensive effort (only four shots allowed in the third) kept Lake Erie from tying the game, and Logan Shaw clinched it with 55 seconds remaining. Gomes and Ortmeyer collected the assists on Shaw's first career AHL goal. The Rampage fired 33 shots at Monsters' keeper Calvin Pickard, and only took one penalty during the game.
San Antonio (19-21-3-5) is off until Friday (the AHL ALL-Star Game is Wednesday), when they begin a pair of games in Grand Rapids versus the Griffins.
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