WHEELING, WV – As the Kelly Cup playoffs loom ever nearer, and talk has turned to magic numbers and discussions on what could happen if the playoffs started today. The Quad City Mallards’ magic number has now been reduced to 12 after facing the Wheeling Nailers in the first of a two-game set. Any combination of points gained by the Mallards or failed to be gained by the Tulsa Oilers amounting to 12 will guarantee a playoff berth for the Flock.
It was a slow start in Wheeling on Friday, the first penalty coming just under five minutes into the game and the first goal with just 8.3 seconds left in the first frame. Michael Parks was in the left goalie no-fly zone, Sean Maguire the goalie. Parks passed to Nolan LaPorte as the latter skated across in front of the crease, LaPorte burying the puck. Mike Wilson earned the secondary apple on the tally that came on the Mallards’ thirteenth shot of the night.
Fort Ashby, WV native Donnie Harris put the Mallards up two to nothing at the 13 minutes and 11 seconds mark of the second period, Justin Kovacs with the lone assist. Harris came along the left boards, getting the puck and shooting from just past the dot. He was unguarded, allowing the easy goal. Seventy-six seconds later Brady Brassart scored the final goal of the game with pure luck. Brassart was screening when Kevin Gibson passed it to him. Brassart was in the middle of falling, but the puck hit his stick just right and bounced into the net. Parks earned his second assist of the night on this goal, as he had passed to Gibson when the defenseman was to Maguire’s right.
At five minutes and 51 seconds of the third, Tyler Currier earned an interference penalty against Grant Arnold. Arnold and Garrett Meurs then had a conversation that led to the two dropping their gloves. From the last few seconds of the fight – all that was shown on ECHL TV –, Arnold won the fight. Meurs was also slapped with a ten-minute misconduct penalty to give him an early exit.
Adam Vay earned his second shut-out of the season, making 22 saves during the night.
The two teams face off again on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM CST on Duck Dynasty Night.