MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Mallards completed a three-in-three stretch on Sunday, their final opponent in less than 48 hours being the Toledo Walleye. Both teams had traveled five hours overnight from their last game, Toledo coming from Kalamazoo and the Mallards from Fort Wayne. Neither team could be described as tired-looking, however, as they both played with aggression and finesse.
The Mallards looked surprisingly energetic for competing in their fourth game in five days, having faced the Kalamazoo Wings in Kalamazoo on Wednesday. Their passing was on target, as was Toledo’s, suggesting perhaps that the bus movie most recently showcased was Mighty Ducks. Kevin Gibson made his return to the home of the Mallards after being sent to the Rapid City Rush on June 14 to complete the trade that had sent Mike Monfredo to the Rush in exchange for Josh MacDonald. Gibson was then dealt to Toledo during the off-season, but elected to begin the season with the Milton Keynes Lightning of the EIHL. That stint overseas lasted 11 games before he returned to the states to be close to his ailing father, Baseball Hall of Famer Kirk Gibson.
It didn’t take long for the scoring to begin, Tristan King lighting the lamp with help from Alex Globke and Matt Pohlkamp roughly five and a half minutes into the opening frame. Pohlkamp was in the right trapezoid behind Matej Machovsky when he passed to Globke, who was at the inside middle edge of the right circle. Globke then fired the puck towards the goalie, but Machovsky stopped the initial offering. King grabbed the rebound, shooting in from the left side.
The Mallards took a 2-0 4:26 later when Keegan Kolesar had a brilliant deflection tickle twine. Gergo Nagy passed from the left trapezoid, using the boards to bounce the puck once to Greg Amlong. Amlong then sent a slap shot from the blue line in front of the penalty boxes, and Kolesar redirected the puck past the Czech from a little up and to the left of the crease. The Walleye did not answer back until a little over halfway into the game, though they led in shots on goal through the first period.
Austen Brassard ended C.J. Motte’s shutout bid after grabbing the rebound fired in by Gibson. There was a gaping net to Motte’s left, and Brassard capitalized on it. Erik Bradford also earned an assist on that marker. Two minutes later Toledo struck again, this time while on the man-advantage. Ryan McGrath had been sitting in the sin bin for all of 23 seconds when A.J. Jenks sent in a rebound on Motte’s left from the corner of the crease. Bradford had taken the original shot on net from the blue line, Shane Berschbach making his way onto the scoresheet with an apple.
The Mallards doubled up the score in the first six minutes of the final frame, first Brayden Low and then Jake Bolton scoring.
Just over a minute into the third period, Jamie Tardif and MacGrath went streaking up the boards on opposite sides of the ice, Tardif on the left and McGrath on the right. The two passed the puck back and forth a few times before Tardif attempted a shot on goal from the left crease corner. His shot rang off the post, but Low was there to stuff in the garbage and break the tie.
Bolton’s goal proved that his head really was in the game, as he managed to slide the puck in through the five-hole from the blue line. The puck bounced off of Machovsky’s thigh on the way into the net, perhaps that bounce being the one that led it to the twine.
Toledo attempted a comeback with a goal in the last two minutes of the contest, but it was not to be. Machovsky had gone to the bench to give Toledo the extra attacker with about 80 seconds remaining in the game, and roughly ten seconds later Bradford went top-shelf. Davis Vandane and Mike Embach were credited with the assists.
With the win, the Mallards improve to 7-3-0 in their last ten games, and have won four of their last five contests. Meanwhile, the Walleye fall to second in the Central Division, one point behind the Fort Wayne Komets.
The Mallards will go on a road trip on I-74 this weekend, as they will take on the Indy Fuel on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Puck drop is set for 6 pm CT on Thursday and 6:30 pm CT on Friday and Saturday.