MOLINE, IL — It was a party, plain and simple. An electric charge, far exceeding that of a regular Saturday night, filled the air of the iWireless Center last Saturday night. A sense of rightness, of belonging, akin to that of opening night, was present. The return of Mallards greats also brought the return of the same energy that surrounded the Drive for Five.
For some of the younger fans — and new fans — it was their first time seeing #55, #77, and #22 on the ice and not only in the rafters. Steve Gibson and Mark McFarlane proved that old guys still have moves, both netting hat tricks as their numbers hung high above. After Gibson scored, Jacques Mailhot began bowing down to him as the goal horn blared. Jeff Antonovich wore a light-up toque sans helmet, making him one of the easiest players to spot.
Kerry Toporowski scored an unassisted goal late in the second half, his gloves remaining on through the game. Shane Lovdahl also scored a hat trick, his final tally going into an empty net.
There were two penalty shots in the game, both in the latter half. These would be the only penalties called through the game. Todd Newton was accused of deliberately dislodging the net, allowing Antonovich to battle one-on-one with Trevor Eisman. Mailhot didn’t leave the ice for the penalty shot, conferring with teammate Antonovich before the whistle blew. As Antonovich flew down the ice, Gatorade bottles and a stick were thrown from the opposing bench, Mailhot trailing behind. Antonovich attempted to pass the puck back to Mailhot, but the sauce went wide and the whistle blew the chance dead. The second penalty shot was more successful, Fredrick Nasvall scoring on Michael Wynn after being hooked.
The fans enjoyed each and every time the train whistle blew, counting with the old church bell each goal scored – a tradition meant to inspire those in Mallards sweaters both on and off the ice as it tolls more and more. The goal horn blasted a total of 18 times, the score Team Burgundy 11, Team White 7. After Team Burgundy’s fifth goal, some fans joked about receiving a poker chip from The President Casino – a promotion long since past as The President Casino closed in 1999.
The party continued even after the Alumni Game, the electricity buzzing as more fans poured into the arena for the present Mallards game. After defeating longtime rival the Fort Wayne Komets in a thrilling comeback game, the Mallards auctioned their burgundy throwback sweaters to benefit Genesis’ Flu-Free QC. The Mallards raised almost $18,000 for Genesis, Mike Monfredo‘s sweater winning the highest bid of the night at $1,400. First star of the night Adam Vay‘s sweater was a close second at $1,300.
A lot of memories were remembered, and just as many were made, at the Mallards’ 20th anniversary Alumni Weekend. If there were wet eyes in the arena, no one batted an eye. Hockey is full of a lot of things, and sometimes nostalgia is one of those things.