Box Score | Game Notes
CHARLOTTE (March 29, 2013) – Forward Jack Combs recorded his first career hat trick, while netminder Dov Grumet-Morris turned aside 34-of-36 shots to help propel the San Antonio Rampage (29-29-1-6) past the Charlotte Checkers (38-24-2-3), 5-2, on Friday night in the first game of the two-game set at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The victory was San Antonio’s second-straight win over teams within the top four of the Western Conference standings. In the past two wins, the Rampage have outscored opponents, 9-3. The game was also the fifth straight affair where San Antonio held Charlotte to two goals and improved the Rampage to 3-3-0-1 against the Checkers this season.
In addition to big nights from Combs and Grumet-Morris, who were awarded First and Second Star honors, respectively, Jon Rheault tallied his second empty net goal in as many nights to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his AHL career.
Combs scored just 55 seconds into the first period when he broke in on a partial breakaway after a Charlotte defenseman lost an edge near the blueline. The goal was the fastest tally to start a game this season since Andre Deveaux scored 53 seconds into the game on Oct. 25 against Chicago.
Combs added his second goal of the night at 8:58 of the first period while on the power play when he banged home a Zach Miskovic point shot from in front of the net to make it 2-0. With the power-play goal, the Rampage have lit the lamp with the man advantage in 12 of their last 17 games.
John McFarland gave the Rampage a 3-0 lead at 11:14 of the first period when he took advantage of Charlotte turnover that gave him a clear shot on Checker’s goaltender Rob Madore. The goal was McFarland’s fifth point in his last six games.
Checkers captain Brett Sutter cut into the lead at 14:55 of the first period when he broke in on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush with Chris Terry, who fed him a cross-ice past that he fired past Grumet-Morris to make it 3-1.
After four goals and two brawls in the first period, neither club was able to light the lamp in the middle frame.
Combs completed his first career hat trick at 12:56 of the third period when he received a pass from Evan Barlow just below the right wing circle and fired it high past Madore. Combs, who was acquired via trade from Bridgeport on March 14, has tallied seven points in as many games with San Antonio.
Jared Staal would bring the Checkers within two goals at 18:18 of the third period, but Rheault would score his 20th goal of the year when he found the back of an empty net at 19:56 of the third period.
The Checkers outshot the Rampage, 36-32, but finished the night 0-for-2 on the power play, while San Antonio was 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
The clubs will meet for the final time this season tomorrow (Saturday) night at 6:00 p.m. before the Rampage return home on Tuesday, April 2nd face the Chicago Wolves. Tickets for remaining Rampage home games start at $10 and can be purchased at the AT&T Center Southeast Box Office, by calling a Rampage representative at 210-444-5554 or online at sarampage.com.