RAPID CITY, SD. – The Quad City Mallards faced the Rapid City Rush for the second time in two nights, and this time came away with a hard fought 2-1 win. The Rush had defeated the Mallards 5-2 the night before.
The one goal scored by the Rush was on a great play by Zach Cohen in the first period, who fell as he shot the puck past goaltender Steve Michalek.
Emotions got out of control in the second period. The two teams combined for a total of 60 penalty minutes in the period. The bulk of that came from three different fights, all near the 14 minute mark of the period. The first was Tanner Eberle versus Taylor Doherty. Although they both just got roughing double minors on the score sheet, there were punches thrown. It wasn’t much of a fight as Eberle didn’t seem prepared for it. During the same stoppage Jake Baker and Garrett Clarke had a fight. Baker seemed to have the advantage although Clarke got the takedown. Alex Gudbranson was called for a ten minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the same stoppage. Finally, at the next faceoff eleven seconds later, Anthony Collins and Daniel Barczuk had a fight. Collins clearly had the edge in this one and threw several punches after Barczuk was down. Collins got a game misconduct.
The Mallards’ penalty kill came up huge in this game. The Mallards did not play very disciplined the first two periods. This resulted in seven power play chances for the Rush. The Mallards were able to kill all seven penalties and had four power play chances themselves.
The Mallards were able to control most of the play at even strength. They ended up with a 37-20 advantage in shots on goal. Despite that effort, Danny Battochio was excellent in net, stopping all 24 of the Mallards shots through the first two periods. The Rush led 1-0 going into the third.
Matt Carey scored his third goal in three games for the Mallards to tie the game with 12:42 to play. He took the shot from near the blue line and put it just inside the post. Battochio appeared to be at least partially screened on the play. Carey then had the secondary assist on a goal by Sam Warning a little over three minutes later. Matt Neal set up Warning in the slot with a perfect pass.
Matt Neal is putting together a really solid season. He has nine goals and ten assists and leads the team in plus/minus at +12. Getting contributions from players like Neal and Warning is huge for the Mallards, since so many key players are out with injuries. Most concerning is Kevin Henderson. He has still has not played since getting hit in the head in a game on November 25. Kevin Gibson, Olivier Archambault and Raphael Bussieres are all nursing injuries as well.
The win was the Mallards’ third road win in their last four games. This is a huge improvement after only winning one of their first nine road games to start the season. Quad City will face the Rush four more times this season, all at the i-Wireless Center during the month of February.
Next up for the Mallards, they face the Wheeling Nailers Friday and Saturday. It will be the first time the Nailers have ever played in the Quad Cities and the Mallards’ first home game in 18 days.