INDIANAPOLIS, IN — What a difference a night – and a different opponent – makes. After playing in Wheeling on Friday, the Mallards traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Fuel on Saturday for the beginning of a weekend series. A shortage of penalties in this game led to a shortage of power-plays for either team, but the Mallards were probably happy after their penalty-kill unit was shellacked by the Nailers on Friday night.
Sixty-five seconds after the opening face-off Michael Parks found twine behind Jake Hildebrand, in what would be the first of a four-goal onslaught for the Mallards in the first period. Chris Francis and Nolan LaPorte earned the assists on Parks’ tally. Francis then scored just over a minute and a half later without help.
The Fuel got their first goal of the game from Alex Wideman at 8:35 of the first period. Wideman was assisted by Brandon Martell and Robin Press; Wideman then assisted on Chris Williams‘ tally early in the final frame.
Pavel Jenys gave the Mallards back their two goal lead just under five and a half minutes after Wideman’s goal, Brady Brassart and Nick Grasso making their ways onto the scoresheet for the assists. This was Grasso’s point back as a Mallard after returning to the team on January 15 from the SPHL’s Macon Mayhem. Ninety seconds later Grasso would earn his second Mallards point when he assisted Alex Petan‘s goal; Grant Arnold also assisted.
When the second period began, former Mallards netminder Eric Levine had taken control of the Fuel’s crease, Hildebrand having made 10 saves on 14 shots. The Mallards would only get seven shots goal in the second frame, Levine letting in one. Jenys scored his second of the night at the seven minutes and 43 seconds mark, Justin Kovacs and Brassart assisting.
Williams began the third period’s scoring, cutting the Mallards’ lead to 5-2. That goal would be Indy’s last of the night. Francis padded the lead just under halfway through the frame, Kevin Gibson and LaPorte with the apples. With four seconds left before the final buzzer, Donnie Harris got a tally with help from LaPorte and Andrew Panzarella.
With the Kalamazoo Wings idle on Saturday night, the Mallards took a two-point lead in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Midwest Division.
The Mallards and Fuel face off again today at 2 pm in Indy, while the K-Wings are home to play Wheeling.