MOLINE, IL – For the first time this season, the Quad City Mallards have defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones. It was another one-goal game, reminiscent of last Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss for the Mallards. The Cyclones attempted a comeback but fell just short in the waning minutes of the final frame. It was a dangerous lead for the Mallards, as the team has as of late been prone to surrendering leads.
The Mallards dominated during the first period, leading in shots on goal 21-10 after twenty minutes. The third shot by the Mallards found twine shortly after Ryan McGrath left the box after a holding call. McGrath sent a backhander in past Jason Kasdorf from the low slot, Jamie Tardif and Gergo Nagy assisting the power-play goal. Cincinnati had placed one too many skaters on the ice during their own power-play, giving the teams four-on-four hockey until McGrath left the box. The Mallards had another great scoring chance a few minutes after McGrath’s goal when Kasdorf lost his stick in the shuffle in front of the net. The Mallards skaters were trying to pick up the garbage, but Kasdorf kept making save after save, the rebound finally going to a Cyclone so the goaltender could retrieve his stick.
It was easy to understand why tempers began to boil over during the match, as the Mallards and Cyclones had faced each other six times before Wednesday night’s contest. Some post-whistle antics by Cincinnati players after C.J. Motte had covered the puck created a kerfuffle beside the recently-returned netminder. McGrath and Justin Danforth accompanied each other to the sin bins with matching roughing calls, and no other penalties were assessed for the fracas. Brayden Low doubled the Mallards’ lead with just less than two minutes left to play in the opening frame. Low received the puck from Nagy at the near edge of the right dot, Nagy having passed from the left dot.
Another tussle broke out in front of Motte a few minutes into the second period when Triston Grant and Brandon McNally began to exchange restaurant recommendations. The recommendations soon turned into shoves, Rob De Fulviis also joining in on the fun. The officials broke up the altercation before any gloves could be dropped, McNally was rather insistent on getting his stick back from Grant before he returned to the bench. As McNally was being escorted back to the locker room, he decided that he didn’t like Low talking to one of the Cyclones players and gave him a bit of a shove. Low retaliated, knocking McNally to the ground. McNally earned himself an early trip to the showers for his troubles, putting Cincinnati short-handed for a little over half the game.
Nagy gave the Mallards a 3-0 lead shortly after McNally left the game, going on a breakaway down the center of the ice. He had a nice slow shot to send the puck in five-hole on the back-hand, Travis Armstrong picking up the apple on the tally. After this, the déjà vu from last Sunday’s game began. Last Sunday the Mallards had taken a 3-0 lead just over 12 minutes into the game before Cincinnati began a comeback that was completed with an overtime victory.
This time the Ohio-based team had the power-play, Kyle Bigos sitting in the box for hooking. Motte was screened on the left side, Danforth managing to find an opening between the bodies to send the puck flying to put the biscuit in the basket. Michael Barrett and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda assisted on the tally that began the rally. The rally continued a few minutes later when De Fulviis pulled a trick shot on Motte that cut the lead to a single goal. De Fulviis was to Motte’s left along the goal line when he picked up the puck on the back of his blade to slide it into the net. Alexander Taulien, who had been in the Mallards’ 2016-17 training camp, earned his first ECHL point with the primary assist. Dominic Zombo also made his way onto the scoresheet with the other assist.
Grant scored the game-winning goal roughly four and a half minutes into the final frame with another goal that went between Kasdorf’s legs. Willie Raskob sent the puck from the left dot inside the Cincinnati zone to Armstrong at the blue-line near the benches. From there Armstrong passed down the ice to Grant who was almost to the goal line. Cincinnati tried to not go quietly into the night, Barrett drawing his team within one goal ten minutes after Grant’s tally. The puck just barely missed the crossbar, instead finding the twine before bouncing immediately out. Jesse Schultz and Alex Kile earned the assists on that marker, which would prove to be the last for either team.
Both Kasdorf and Motte faced 39 shots on Wednesday, Cincinnati holding the Mallards to only eight in the middle frame. The Mallards will continue their homestand this weekend, taking on the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday and the Wichita Thunder on Saturday. Both of those games will start at 7:05, with Friday being another $2 Beer/ $2 Hot Dog Night presented by 97X.