The last time the Fort Wayne Komets played a road game against the Quad City Mallards was in March of 2012 in the Central Hockey League. A couple players of note in that game were Brandon Marino and Colin Chaulk, and the Mallards franchise was within a few months of once again getting new owners. The Mallards had a fast and high scoring team that season but they could never solve the big, physical Komets. The Komets won that 2012 game by a score of 7-2.
Times have changed. Darren McMillan is the only player left from either roster from that season. Both teams are now in the ECHL and feature a lot of developmental players. The Mallards franchise has been revitalized, as evidenced by the crowd of 5,913 on hand, the biggest crowd of any of today’s ECHL games.
They got to see a very exciting game. The Komets came out strong and controlled the first few minutes, creating a few great scoring chances and out-shooting the Mallards 5-1. Play started to even up when the Komets were called for a couple penalties. The Mallards created a number of good chances but failed to score on either power play.
With six minutes to play in the period, the Komets got 1:24 of five on three time when McMillan and Mike Monfredo were each called for hooking. The Komets created a number of great chances but Hoffman once again was able to stop them. With just a few seconds left in the five on three a Komets’ shot hit the crossbar, but Hoffman was able to cover the rebound to force a faceoff.
The Komets got on the board with 1:25 left in the period. Justin Hamonic got control of the puck and sprang Kyle Thomas on a semi-breakaway. He beat Hoffman with a shot through the five hole.
The Mallards got another power play chance late in the first period. In the final seconds of the period, Tanner Eberle skated into the slot and beat Pat Nagle high, but it was after the horn sounded to end the period. It was the correct call. Eberle’s shot was about one second too late.
The Mallards played excellent in the second and third periods, out-shooting the Komets 26-14 the rest of the way. Nagle though was just as excellent, stopping 34 of 36 shots he faced on the night. The Mallards finally got a shot past Nagle late in the second period. During a Komets power play the Mallards forced a turnover which led to a two on one the other way. Eberle scored with assists from Monfredo and Alex Gudbranson.
In the third period, the Mallards continued to control play, aided in part by three Komets’ penalties. The Mallards failed to score on any of the power plays, largely due to the play of Nagle. Raphael Bussieres finally scored to give the Mallards a 2-1 lead with 5:52 to play. A pass attempt was tipped, and Bussieres found himself near the crease with a bouncing puck and Nagle out of position. He was able to get the puck under control and put it in the net.
The final minutes were very exciting with the Komets pressing hard to tie the game. They again created a number of good chances but Hoffman made the saves that were needed. The Komets pulled Nagle with roughly 90 seconds to play. At one point Olivier Archambault got down the side with the puck and took a shot at the empty net from a steep angle, and he hit the post. The Komets brought the puck back the other way. With ten seconds left Hoffman made his last save to force a faceoff. The Mallards were able to kill off the final seconds after the faceoff for the win.
Ryan Tesink did not play in this game. He took a puck to the face in Friday’s game against the Cincinnati Cyclones. He was not placed on injured reserve so hopefully he is back soon.
The Mallards’ next game is Friday against the Alaska Aces. They then play home-and-home against the Indy Fuel Saturday and Sunday.