MOLINE, IL — Interim head coach Phil Axtell got his first victory behind the bench after getting a new title on Friday, facing off against the Missouri Mavericks. The Quad City Mallards and Mavericks played their first of three games in as many days, this one coming at the iWireless Center before play transitions to Independence, MO for games tonight and Sunday afternoon.
Michael Parks opened the scoring just 35 seconds after the opening face-off, Brady Brassart, and Nolan LaPorte assisting. The goal came off a backhand shot that faked Eamon McAdam out to cause him to sprawl, leaving a gaping net. Through the first 20 minutes, the Mallards seemed to be on fire.
Kevin Tansey tied the game from the blue line at the 10:43 mark of the opening frame, Carter Verhaeghe earning the assist. The Mavericks would go on to score three more goals before the night was through, seemingly dashing the Mallards’ chances of victory.
Twelve seconds after Kevin Gibson entered the box for high-sticking in the second period, Rocco Carzo gave the visitors the lead, Verhaeghe earning his second assist of the night while Darren Nowick earned his first. Two minutes later Dan Correale extended the Mavericks’ lead, Nowick and Dane Fox with the assists.
Fox scored a goal of his own just 24 seconds into the final period, Nowick the only apple. The puck found the lone gap in Vay’s coverage, sailing in just above his right shoulder as he hugged the post. It was then, when the fire seemed extinguished in the Mallards, that they found a spark.
Parks passed the puck in front of the crease to Pavel Jenys, who scored his sixth goal of the season as he tapped the puck in on McAdam’s left side just outside the paint. Chris Francis also assisted on Jenys’ goal, which came 7:19 into the period.
Jack Nevins put the Mallards within one goal when he found twine just four minutes later. LaPorte and Brassart found their ways back to the scoresheet with the assists on Nevin’s goal. Thirty-one seconds later Alex Gudbranson tied the game unassisted to send the game to overtime.
Grant Arnold was shoved into McAdam as he screened the goalie shortly after Gudbranson’s tally, falling to the ice and knocking McAdam off his feet as well. McAdam punched Arnold with his blocker, drawing another Mav player who seemed to try to punch Arnold as well. This created a scrum to the left of the net, which Adam Vay appeared to want to join. Vay looked over at the bench as the scrum grew, but Coach Axtell told him no. Instead, Vay was forced to watch the proceedings from the other end of the ice, never leaving his crease.
The overtime was scoreless, both goalies making incredible saves. After his fight and victory over Fort Wayne last Saturday, Vay seems to have become the goalie Minnesota knew he could be when they signed him this summer. There was one point where, with 82 seconds left before the shoot-out, Missouri had a breakaway and looked sure to win the match. But whoosh went Vay’s glove to make the save and handle the puck to a Mallard player to bring the play back down the ice.
The Mavericks’ shot first in the shoot-out, Verhaeghe getting the first chance. He, as well as Fox at the end, missed; Radoslav Illo was the only Missouri player to be successful in the shoot-out. Francis shot first for the Mallards and scored, followed by Parks. Parks found twine, once again on the backhand, to win the game.
The Mallards travel to Independence to take on the Mavericks again on Saturday and Sunday, puck drop on Saturday scheduled for 7 CST.