The San Antonio Rampage continued its six-game road trip with a lopsided win in Utica before splitting a pair against the troublesome Toronto Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.
Rampage 8, Comets 4
The Rampage opened 2015 with a bang, blowing out the host Utica Comets 8-4 on New Year's Day. San Antonio scored 5 goals on 17 shots to chase former goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Shane O'Brien opened the scoring at 17:35 of the first period with his sixth goal from Brett Olson and Bobby Butler. Connor Brickley struck for a power-play early in the second period, assists to Drew Shore and Mark Mancari, to make it 2-0 Rampage. Cal O'Reilly got one back for the Comets 1:51 later. Garrett Wilson tallied his 11th goal from Butler and Olson to restore the Rampage's two-goal lead. Utica defenseman Alex Biega scored shorthanded to pull the Comets back within a goal at 9:35. Jesse Blacker fired home another power-play goal just over a minute later, with Rocco Grimaldi and Mancari collecting assists. Brandon DeFazio replied for the Comets to reduce the deficit to one again. Butler scored his 13th of the season to send Markstrom to the bench at 12:24. Blacker and Garrett Wilson collected the helpers on the Butler goal. Shore beat replacement keeper Joacim Eriksson minutes later, from Mancari and Brickley, to make it 6-3 in favor of San Antonio before Andrew Yogan tallied the Rampage's sixth goal of the period at 15:30. Wade Megan and Stephan Vigier combined to set up Yogan's 3rd. The assists were Megan's first point this season and Vigier's first point in the AHL. The teams traded goals in the third period, with Nicklas Jensen scoring for Utica and Alex Petrovic getting one for San Antonio. Logan Shaw drew the lone helper on Petrovic's even-strength marker. Dan Ellis stopped 28 shots to post his 13th win.
Marlies 3, Rampage 2
Toronto's Matt Frattin notched the first two goals of the game to power the Marlies to a 3-2 win. Frattin scored a power-play goal at 16:39 of the first period and struck again early in the second frame to stake the home side to a 2-0 lead. Drew Shore got the Rampage on the board with a second period power-play tally from Rocco Grimaldi and Alex Petrovic. Ryan Rupert bagged the eventual game-winner 1:28 after Shore's goal to restore the Marlies two-goal advantage. Garrett Wilson scored a power-play goal with 1:15 remaining in regulation, with the assists going to Brett Olson and Bobby Butler, to halve the deficit, but goaltender Christopher Gibson shut the door the rest of the way. Michael Houser took the loss, finishing with 16 saves. Gibson turned aside 21 shots for Toronto.
Rampage 4, Marlies 3 (OT)
San Antonio bounced back with a 4-3 overtime decision in the rematch to even its record on the long trip at 2-2. Logan Shaw opened the scoring with a power-play goal from Greg Zanon and Rocco Grimaldi at 18:28 of the first period. After a scoreless second, Ryan Rupert tied the game just 13 seconds into the final frame. Bobby Butler bagged his 14th, a power-play tally assisted by Blake Parlett, to put San Antonio back on top. Toronto replied with power-play goals from Connor Brown and Byron Froese to take a 3-2 lead with 5:22 left in regulation. Garrett Wilson tied the tilt with an even-strength goal from Butler and Ryan Martindale at the 16:21 mark. Rocco Grimaldi's 3-on-3 breakaway goal, his 5th of the season, at 5:29 of the extra session ended it. Dan Ellis made 20 saves to get the win while Antoine Bibeau finished with 31 stops to take the loss.
San Antonio (19-11-3-0) closes out the trek north with games against the Adirondack Flames tonight and Rochester Americans on Wednesday. The Rampage return home to face the Iowa Wild and the Toronto Marlies this weekend at the AT&T Center.