MOLINE, IL – It was a game two and a half months in the running, and not even regulation was enough to finish it. The Quad City Mallards and Tulsa Oilers began a game on Friday, November 17, 2017, and finished at 8:02 PM on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018. At the 7:52 mark of the second period on November 17th, Tulsa Oilers head coach Rob Murray suffered a medical emergency on the bench, necessitating the postponement.
Tuesday’s game began with 12:08 remaining in the second period, Tulsa leading 2-1 after Tulsa goals by Joey Sides & Dmitrii Sergeev with a Mallards answer from Brayden Low. Many changes in the line-up occurred since the game had begun, as Josh MacDonald has gone to Europe, the Mallards have cut or lost several players due to call-ups to the AHL, and Tulsa switching up their line-up. Hubbs did not play on Tuesday, and Christophe Lalancette, Connor Schmidt, Vladimir Nikiforov, and Sergeev were also not in the line-up. Hubbs assisted on both of Tulsa’s first two goals and went on to earn the third star of the game for it – quite a feat considering he wasn’t in Tuesday’s line-up. Nikiforov earned the second assist on Sergeev’s goal.
Jake Hildebrand finished the game between the pipes for Tulsa. Even though Ivan Kulbakov had an AHL call-up that lasted from December 7th to January 23rd, he played the complete game for the Mallards and finished with 43 saves.
The game resumed slowly, the juxtaposition of it being the middle of the game, and also the beginning of the game, creating a temporal nonconformity. It took roughly eight and a half minutes for the first goal of the resumed game to be scored, Kale Kessy being credited with the goal. Connor Bleackley streaked down the center of the ice, passing left to Kessy. Kessy took a shot on Kulbakov, the rebounding going haywire and making Kulbakov sprawl on his back to attempt to make the save. While Kulbakov was able to tip the puck away from the net with his glove, a Mallard player attempted to clear it away from the crease. Instead of clearing it, the puck bounced off of the stick and in to meet twine.
With only 15 seconds remaining in the short second period, Gergo Nagy – who wasn’t even in the United States when the game began on November 17th – scored from the left dot to bring the score to 3-2. Jamie Tardif was screening Hildebrand when Low and Travis Armstrong – who was added to the Mallards’ roster on January 20th – assisted on the marker. Triston Grant then evened the score at three apiece eight and a half minutes into the final frame after Alex Globke won a face-off in the Oilers’ defensive zone. The face-off was to Hildebrand’s right.
The two teams decided to give the fans some extra hockey to make up for the shortened Tuesday game, going through five minutes of overtime and still not scoring. The game then went to a shoot-out, both teams only sending out two shooters before the game was decided. Tulsa first sent Tommy Vannelli to try to beat Kulbakov in the one-on-one contest, but the Belarusian turned away both that shot and the one by Justin Selman later. Tristan King and Nagy both faced off against Hildebrand, Nagy netting the final goal of the game that began last year.
The Mallards and Oilers also accomplished a feat performed by only eight other teams in ECHL history: there were no penalties called throughout all 65 minutes. Even after Bleackley ran into Kulbakov while crashing the net and causing some post-whistle scuffling, no one was sent to the sin bin for their bad actions.
On Friday the Mallards will face-off against the Indy Fuel, seeking to continue their three-game winning streak – four games if you were to include Tuesday’s match as part of the February schedule rather than the November schedule. Puck drop is set for 7:05 PM CST on another 97X $2 Hot Dog and $2 Beer Night for an I-74 showdown.
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