MOLINE, IL — The Quad City Mallards and Indy Fuel returned from the holiday break ready for action on Wednesday, going as far as the shootout to make the game last longer they were having so much fun. The Fuel looked to end a 13-game losing streak, while the Mallards sought the beginning of a point streak on the week before facing the Missouri Mavericks in a home-and-home series this weekend.
The Mallards took a one-nothing lead into the first intermission after Nolan LaPorte capitalized on Kevin Gibson‘s breakaway rebound. Michael Parks earned an assist on the opening goal as well. The Mallards seemed to dominate in the first period, outshooting the Fuel 12-4 through 20 minutes. After the first intermission, though, things began to fall apart for the Mallards.
The second period was nothing except sloppy play from the Mallards, poor passing abounding. The poor style of play continued into the final frame as well, the Mallards forgetting the puck, not skating hard for the puck nor to receive the pass, and passing right to an opposing player many times. Both teams played at the same level through the last 40 minutes of play, and unfortunately that’s not a compliment for the third-worst team in the league the Fuel.
The Mallards seem to have a problem playing well with the lead on their home ice, and with consistency. The Mallards who played last Wednesday against Tulsa was definitely not the team that played the Fuel this Wednesday.
Ryan Keller tied the game at the six minutes and 49 seconds mark of the final frame, Matt Rupert assisting with the uncontested breakaway. CJ Motte made the initial save on Rupert’s breakaway shot, but the rebound bounced to Keller as Motte sprawled on the ice with poor defense surrounding.
Roughly two and a half minutes later, Donnie Harris gave the Mallards back the lead with his shot from the high slot. This was Harris’ first game back after suffering a lower body injury and missing the past 13 games. The goal, assisted by Justin Kovacs and Alex Petan, went top shelf in the left-hand corner to Jake Hildebrand. The Mallards’ lead wouldn’t last long, Josh Shalla finding the back of the net with help from Alex Guptill and Kevin Lynch just over four minutes after Harris’ goal.
From there, the teams would play the rest of regulation and 3-on-3 overtime to a draw.
Petan would score the only goal of the five-round shootout, Guptill not even getting his shot off in the final round as he lost control of the puck as he skated down the ice.
The Mallards play again at home against the Missouri Mavericks on Friday night at 7pm. The first 1000 fans through the gates will receive a free Mallards scarf that night.