CINCINNATI, OH — The Quad City Mallards visited the home of weird chili for the last time this season on Wednesday, looking to continue their seven-game winning streak and surge up the standings in the Midwest Division. The Mallards were without two of their top players against the Cyclones, both Alex Gudbranson and Alex Petan, who are seeing time in the AHL. A smackdown a la Adam Vay wasn’t in the cards on this night, as C.J. Motte got the start between the pipes instead against Michael Houser.
The action didn’t start until halfway through the first period, the first penalty having only occurred a couple minutes prior. A Cyclones player had begun a rush into the Mallards’ zone when the puck looked to bounce off Grant Arnold‘s skate. Sam Warning grabbed the puck and passed it far up to Justin Kovacs as he streaked up the ice on an uncontested breakaway. Kovacs went backhand-forehand, burying the puck in the twine to get the early lead.
Two minutes and 25 seconds into the middle frame Tommy Mele knotted the score up at one. He squeaked the puck in-between Motte’s right shoulder and the crossbar as Motte hugged the post. Christiaan Minella and Saverio Posa assisted on the goal that came along the goal line.
Eight minutes later, after a bit of post-Valentine’s Day Kiss Cam, the Mallards took back the lead. The big screen was busy showing Guillaume Gelinas and Nick Grasso on the bench as Chris Francis won the face-off in the Cincinnati zone. Francis passed the puck back to Michael Parks, who fired a wrister from the high slot to light the lamp.
With 11 seconds left before the second bathroom break, Warning streaked the far boards with the puck. He passed the puck across the front of the crease to Arnold, who shot the puck into the gaping net for the game-winning goal. Andrew Panzarella earned an assist on this tally as well.
Cincinnati did not go quietly into the night, however, striking back six and a half minutes into the final frame to cut the Mallards’ lead to a single tally. Shane Walsh took a shot on net, Motte blocking it with his left pillow. The puck slid along the pad to Mele, who bounced it off his skate to his stick before sending it into the net. Minella picked up his second assist of the night on Mele’s second goal of the night.
With the win, Quad City sits one point behind the Fort Wayne Komets for second place and just nine points behind the division-leading Toledo Walleye. Cincinnati and Quad City will travel back to Moline for the finale of their season series tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 pm CST; four couples will be saying “I do” during the first intermission’s Wedding on Ice.