The Quad City Mallards played the league-leading Missouri Mavericks even on their ice for 55 minutes before allowing the game-winning goal.

The Mallards trailed early when C.J. Ludwig beat Steve Michalek to put the Mavericks up 1-0. It looked like this game could get away from the Mallards early but they settled down after that. Alex Gudbranson scored on the Mallards’ first power play chance to tie the game late in the period. The teams headed to the second period tied 1-1.

Sam Warning scored one minute into the second period to give the Mallards a 2-1 lead. Warning had a very good game. He also assisted on Gudbranson’s power play goal and made a number of good plays. The two teams played very evenly for the next 14 minutes until the Mallards had a breakdown on a power play that led to a breakaway for Colin Markison. He beat Michalek five hole to tie the game 2-2.

The Mallards controlled play the first several minutes of the third period. They were aided in part by two Mavericks penalties. The Mallards created several good chances during this stretch but were unable to re-take the lead. Finally, Tyler Barnes made a great play to set up Carter Verhaeghe for what would be the game winning goal for the Mavericks with 4:27 to play.

With a little over a minute left the Mallards pulled Michalek for an extra attacker. The Mallards did get a couple good shots during the final minute but Mavericks’ goalie Josh Robinson was able make the saves needed to preserve the win for the Mavericks.

A couple times the Mallards appeared to draw a penalties in the final minute, but referee Tyler Puddifant did not call them. One obvious one that was not called was when Robinson slashed Mike Monfredo on the leg. The last instance happened away from the puck. I couldn’t tell who it was but a Mallards player was taken down near the slot. The Mavericks scored an empty net goal on the same play. Emotions finally boiled over during the stoppage after that goal. Trevor Ludwig and Mike Monfredo were both called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Ludwig was also called for slashing.

I knew heading in this was going to be a very tough game. The Mavericks only have three losses and one shootout loss all season, and have still not lost at home. The Mavericks’ last home loss was against the Mallards on March 29th of last season. The Mallards had to travel last night after a grueling and physical two game set against the Wheeling Nailers. The Mavericks played at home last night.

All that said, the real issue for the Mallards right now is injuries. They only had 14 healthy skaters for this game. Today, like Friday against the Nailers, the Mallards seemed to tire at the end of the game. The healthy skaters are working longer shifts than normal to make up for the missing players. Kevin Henderson, Kevin Gibson, Kyle Follmer, Raphael Bussieres, and Tanner Eberle are out due to injuries. Guillaume Gelinas was just called up to the Iowa Wild today.

It would have been a big boost to the Mallards’ chances if they could have solved the Mavericks this season. Due to the unbalanced schedule, the Midwest Division teams do not play the league-leaders an equal number of times. The Indy Fuel and Evansville Icemen each play the Mavericks six times. The Cincinnati Cyclones and Fort Wayne Komets only play them twice. The Mallards have played them four times and have one more game against them in late March.

Next, the Mallards get a much needed five days off before facing the Indy Fuel on Saturday. It’s the first game of a home-and-home series against the Fuel.

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