MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards continue to miss the win column, this time falling to the Cincinnati Cyclones. While it was an entertaining game with 11 total goals scored, it was still not what the Mallards were looking for. The Mallards went down 4-1 in the first 20 minutes of play, and it was an uphill battle from there.
Cincinnati started the game off with two power-play goals within twenty seconds. Kyle Bigos went into the box first for the Mallards with a tripping call and was then joined by Kenney Morrison 24 seconds later. While on the 5-on-3 advantage, Justin Vaive slid one past Eric Hartzell with help from Eric Knodel and Jesse Schultz. Before the first goal was announced, Winston Day Chief also found twine behind Hartzell, Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and Brandon McNally picking up the apples on the tally.
Josh MacDonald began the Mallards’ comeback at 11:02 of the first period, when three goals would be scored within the next 53 seconds. MacDonald got the puck at the Mallards’ blue line after he dodged a check, streaking down the left boards before beating Anthony Peters. Greg Amlong was credited with an assist on the goal. Twenty-seven seconds later Cincinnati extended their lead back to two goals with another goal by Vaive off a faceoff. Vaive then completed his hat-trick 26 seconds later, Schultz picking up another assist. It was at that time that Head Coach Phil Axtell decided to pull Hartzell in favor of Matt O’Connor, who had played Wednesday against Fort Wayne.
The Mallards started the second period with 33 seconds of power-play left after Dominic Zombo entered the box for high-sticking late in the first period. With 11 seconds left in the visitors’ penalty kill, Rob De Fulviis went over O’Connor’s glove on the left-hand side while the goalie was in the butterfly. This short-handed tally was unassisted. MacDonald then scored for the Mallards again, cutting the Cyclones’ lead once more. Ryan McGrath skated in from the right and fired the puck at Peters a few times, and MacDonald picked up the rebound and sent it in top-shelf from the goal-mouth.
Triston Grant laid a hit on Chris Leone – Mallards Assistant Coach Mike Leone’s younger brother – along the boards in front of the visitors’ penalty box with just over a minute remaining in the second stanza. De Fulviis wasn’t a fan of that and swooped in to fight Grant. Though the two both dropped their gloves, and there were definitely punches thrown, the officials called it only roughing and not a fight. The officials were in the middle of the fracas the entire time, attempting to pull the two off of each other. Grant was awarded a double minor for roughing, making Kyle Novak sit in the penalty box for him for the extra infraction.
The hometown team continued their attempted comeback with two goals in the final frame, but alas it was for naught. Chris Francis scored three and a half minutes into the period with help from Sam Warning and Willie Raskob, Warning passing it back-handed to Francis who was on the left. Raskob had passed to Warning along the left boards. Morrison then scored the Mallards’ final goal of the night roughly six minutes later with help from Amlong and MacDonald. Morrison was in the high-slot and rifled the puck through the screen, making Peters angry. Peters then slashed Brayden Low – who had been the Mallards’ screen – giving the Mallards another power-play. That didn’t go according to plan, as Danforth scored unassisted while his team was short-handed. The Final nail in the coffin came at 16:04 when Schultz scored with help from Shawn O’Donnell and Brycen Martin.
The Mallards will take on the rival Fort Wayne Komets in Indiana at 6:30 CST on Saturday. The next Mallards home game is Friday, December 29 against the Cyclones. Stay warm out there, and Merry Christmas everyone!