MOLINE, IL – The race for the playoffs is usually a tight one, and the Quad City Mallards and Kalamazoo Wings are proving that true yet again this season. The two teams are vying for the third spot in the Central Division, the Fort Wayne Komets nine points ahead of the Mallards in second place. Only two points separate the third place Mallards from the fourth place Wings after Wednesday evening’s match-up between the two teams.
It took almost half a period for any action to begin on Wednesday, though there were plenty of stoppages due to icings during that time. In fact, there were five icings by the first entry to the game summary – a fight. Andrew Panzarella and Ben Wilson dropped the gloves at the 9:01 mark after some words were exchanged between the two. It was a quick fight, only a couple punches being thrown before the combatants lost their balance and fell to the ice. Just 1:52 later, Michael Parks put the Mallards on the board set up by some pretty passing from Chris Francis and Nolan LaPorte. Parks passed the puck to LaPorte along the half boards before skating towards the net. LaPorte hit Francis with a cross-ice pass, who then connected with Parks to finish the opening goal.
Just under 13 minutes into the second period, Josh Pitt tied the game with help from Blake Kessel. The goal came while the Mallards were making a slow line change, most of the home team coming off the ice while their replacements trickled off the bench. 40 seconds later the visitors earned their first lead of the night when Stefan Fournier slid the puck between the legs of C.J. Motte while the goalie was doing the splits. Fournier’s first goal of the season was assisted by Brian Hart.
The Mallards didn’t let the Wings hold the lead for long with Brady Brassart tying the game 90 seconds later. Josh MacDonald passed to Brassart from the blue line, as was Brassart streaking in towards the net. He then shot from near the goal line, the puck either bouncing off a Wings defenseman’s stick or Nick Riopel’s elbow to deflect into the net. LaPorte put the Mallards back on top 1:34 into the final frame. Mike Wilson earned the only apple on that tally after passing to the boards in front of the penalty boxes. LaPorte grabbed the puck at the blue line after it bounced off the boards, streaking in to score from the low slot.
The lone successful man-advantage began at 12:22 after Brassart was accused of embellishment. While I’ll make no claims against that call, he was very definitely slashed across the hands while carrying the puck towards Gretzky’s office behind Motte. Twenty-four seconds later Peter Schneider knotted the game back up at three with help from Cameron Darcy and Tyler Biggs.
Both teams earned a point, as 60 minutes couldn’t decide the game. Not much more time was needed, however, as Kyle Bushee scored just 20 seconds into the bonus hockey frame. Justin Taylor and Tanner Sorenson, being the other two Kalamazoo Wings players on the ice, earned the assists.
The Mallards take on the Missouri Mavericks in Moline on St Patrick’s Day. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 CST. After the game, the Mallards will be auctioning off their specialty Chicago Cubs themed sweaters that will be worn that night. The auction was originally scheduled for their Saturday night match-up but was recently moved to St Patrick’s Day.