MOLINE, IL – The Toledo Walleye, Fort Wayne Komets, Quad City Mallards, and Kalamazoo Wings have all secured playoff berths in the Central Division after Friday night, but who faces who is yet to be determined. Toledo holds a 12 point lead for first place with 95 points, meaning that it would be almost impossible to knock them from that perch. Fort Wayne is only six points up on the Mallards, with Kalamazoo four points behind the Illinois team. The Mallards and Komets faced off on Friday in what could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs, and both teams seemed in playoff form.
Before the opening faceoff, hats flew in from the stands to honor the two hat tricks scored by Michael Parks and Sam Warning while the team was on the road. Warning’s hat trick was scored against the Indy Fuel on Sunday in an 8-7 loss for the Mallards, while Parks’ came on Wednesday against the Wichita Thunder. The first period was fast-paced, the visitors registering 18 shots on goal; the Mallards only had 10 within the same frame. The shots had been even more lopsided halfway through, when C.J. Motte had faced nine shots to Pat Nagle’s two. The Mallards’ defense seemed lackadaisical, or almost not present, for much of the period. Motte had apparently eaten his Wheaties for breakfast, as he made many phenomenal saves through the first 20 minutes to keep the Komets off the board.
The second period had just as quick of a start, though this was one was not to the local fans’ liking. Garrett Thompson slid the puck under Motte’s blocker with help from Mike Cazzola and Shawn Szydlowski to finally get something added to the scoresheet for the night. The goal came just over a minute after the Mallards came off a power-play, as Trevor Cheek had entered the sin bin with 43 seconds left in the first frame. This lead didn’t last long, though, as Justin Kovacs found twine behind Nagle 50 seconds later. Brady Brassart and Sam Warning earned the assists on that tally. It looked like Brassart passed to Warning between the legs of Kovacs, Warning then carrying the puck up to the crease before passing to Kovacs in front of the net.
Fort Wayne took back the lead at the 9:40 mark of the second, Brett Perlini bouncing the puck off the right post and into the net as Motte was down in the butterfly. Former Mallard Kyle Follmer was credited with the lone assist on that tally. Recent returnee Adam Gilmour tied the score back up with just under five minutes remaining in the frame after Kovacs passed from the left boards to Kevin Gibson. Gibson then swung around from the left side to the right to pass to Gilmour as he stood in the low slot.
13 seconds into the final frame Cheek put the Komets back up by one point, Gabriel Desjardins and Curtis Leonard with the apples. The period quickly became a rough affair, as hits became harder and two almost fights broke out. Brassart and Cazzola tangled up with each other behind Nagle at 14:01, and 62 seconds later Nolan LaPorte and Szydlowski threw punches in front of the Komets’ bench. Szydlowski had cross checked LaPorte near the stanchion, knocking him to the ground. While he was down, Kyle Thomas hit him in the head with his stick. LaPorte stood up spitting, but the officials quickly separated him and Szydlowski. The first two roughing penalties were fully served, but while LaPorte and Szydlowski still had time left in the box, Guillaume Gelinas scored unassisted.
The two teams were unable to find a victor in regulation, bringing extra hockey to the iWireless Center. It was Mike Wilson with his first goal of the season who won the game, with only five seconds remaining on the clock.
The Mallards face last place in the Central Division Wichita Thunder at 4:05 CST on Sunday for the last Sunday game of the regular season.