MOLINE, IL – In the first of two back to back games, the Quad City Mallards defeated the Rapid City Rush 4-1 in a third period break-out.
The first half of the first period the Mallards and Rush were evenly matched, while during the second half of that period the Rush seemed to have more energy. Matt Neal scored a powerplay goal with help from Olivier Archambault and Zach Pochiro to give the Mallards the lead, but the balance shifted quickly. This was Archambault’s first game since 16 January after suffering an upper-body injury.
The Rush came out of the locker room after the first intermission with a fire lit beneath them, outshooting the home team 16-9 in the middle frame. Danick Gauthier tied the game just under four minutes into the second period, Brian O’Rourke and Winston Day Chief assisting.
The Mallards had difficulty clearing the puck, or even having possession of the puck for long stretches of time. For much of the period the Mallards appeared to have little to no aggression, something that certainly helps when playing old rival Rapid City.
According to Matt Carey, a “pointed discussion” occurred during the second intermission, leading to a renewed vigor by the Mallards. The second period Mallards appeared to be those from January, while the Mallards which took the ice during the third period seemed much more like the team that had played in November. Three goals were scored within the next twenty minutes.
The Mallards suffered two consecutive defensive zone face-offs after icing calls before being able to put together a rush towards the net guarded by Danny Battochio. On that rush, Vladimir Nikiforov rifled the puck into the net. Pochiro and Sam Warning received tallies for assisting on Nikiforov’s goal.
Two minutes later, Carey scored to increase the Mallards’ lead, Austin Coldwell and Brady Brassart having passed the puck to him to set up the play. Many believed that there had been a goal at around the 12:55 mark of the third period, but the referee immediately waved it off as not having crossed the line. No whistle had sounded for a stoppage in play, and the Mallards quickly rectified any wrong.
Raphael Bussieres found twine with help from Carey and Brassart, sealing the win to help the Mallards inch closer to a play-off berth.
Throughout the game the Rush and Mallard players had seemed to be itching for some type of extra-curricular activity, and they’d soon be satisfied. As Pochiro dumped the puck and went for a change, a Sean Erickson slammed into him along the boards, sparking Pochiro to attempt a fight. The referee and linesmen broke the fight up before any gloves could be dropped, however. Pochiro earned two minutes for roughing whole Erickson earned two minutes for interference.
Former Mallard Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel shoved Kevin Gibson into the goal post after a shot on goal by Rapid City while the two penalties still had just over 30 seconds remaining. The whistle had stopped play, and Gibson retaliated by dropping the gloves with Dieude-Fauvel as the rest of the players gathered around the crease. Kyle Follmer and James Melindy shared a few words before deciding to fight.
Dieude-Fauvel and Gibson earned double minors for roughing from the exchange, while Follmer and Melindy earned five for fighting. As Dieude-Fauvel skated off the ice he gestured at the Mallards bench, though whether he spoke to the bench is unknown.
Following the game, defenseman Jake Baker was recalled by the AHL’s Manitoba Moose.
The Mallards and Rush will face off again tomorrow night at 7:05 CST for Frozen Night and John Deere Community Night.