UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Utica Comets were unable to build on a productive weekend, as they were shutout for the first time in franchise history on home ice, 3-0 to the San Antonio Rampage.
Joey Crabb was the offensive force on the Rampage, as the veteran winger potted all three goals for the visitors. Center Vincent Trocheck also had a three point evening, with helpers on each of Crabb’s tallies, while defenseman Colby Rodak had a multi-point game of his own with two assists. Jacob Markstrom earned his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his AHL career with 22 saves, while Joacim Eriksson stopped 27 of 30 in defeat.
San Antonio opened the scoring 12:03 into the game as Crabb scored his tenth of the season to make it 1-0. With the Rampage on a power play, Crabb took a rebound off of a Rodak shot and beat Eriksson from the right hand circle. San Antonio’s leading scorer, Trocheck, also picked up an assist on the play, his 23rd of the season.
The Rampage doubled their advantage with just 1:34 on the clock in the first period as Crabb scored his second tally of the evening. The centerman collected his second multi-goal game of the season, while Trocheck also picked up his second point of the evening with the primary assist. Center John McFarland also had a helper on the play, his sixth of 2013-14.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in a second period that saw the two teams combine for 17 shots on goal. Markstrom continued his mastery of the Comets offense with seven saves, including a big glove stop on Utica defenseman Patrick Mullen during a 5-on-3 power play for the home team. Eriksson turned aside all 10 shots he faced, including a pair of point blank stops with his team shorthanded late in the period.
Crabb put the icing on the cake for the Rampage as he completed his hat trick 4:41 into the third period. With Utica shorthanded via a Kent Huskins minor penalty, Crabb walked in from the left hand circle and put a wrist shot past a screened Eriksson. The hat trick was Crabb’s first since April 14, 2013, when he was a member of the Hershey Bears. Trocheck picked up his third assist on the play, the first three-assist game of his AHL career. Robak had his second helper of the evening with the secondary assist.
The loss ended Eriksson’s winning streak at three games and dropped him to 16-14-2-2 on the season. The shutout was the third overall this season against the Comets and their first since a 1-0 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Dec. 13. Markstrom has now turned aside 56 of the 58 shots he faced in the two games against Utica this season, good for a .966 save percentage.
The Comets won’t have overly long to dwell on the defeat with the Adirondack Phantoms at The AUD for the first time this season on Friday evening. Friday night’s game is the first ever “Comets Whiteout”. The first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive a white Comets T-shirt and all fans are encouraged to wear white clothing. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.