INDIANAPOLIS, IN – To say the Quad City Mallards’ offense has struggled mightily lately might be an understatement. They have not scored more than two goals in regulation in their last six games. They did score three goals against the Kalamazoo Wings on January 15 but that required overtime. This trend continued Saturday as the Indy Fuel defeated the Mallards for the second time in as many nights, this time by a 3-1 score.
The start of this game was not a lot different than the game the previous night against the Fuel. The Mallards were outshot 10-2 over the first 19 minutes of the game. Michael Colantone got the Fuel on the scoreboard 10:33 into the game on a close shot set up by a pass from Cody Sharib. The Mallards did get a power play chance at the end of the period that carried over into the second period but were unable to convert.
The second period the Mallards played very well but had nothing to show for it. They held the Fuel to five shots in the period. They were aided by two unforced penalties on the Fuel – a delay of game and a too many men on the ice. However, neither team scored in the period. The Fuel headed into the third with a 1-0 lead.
The third period the Mallards had their best offensive pressure of the whole game. Unfortunately, the Fuel struck first on a goal by Matt White early in the period to make it 2-0. The Mallards finally broke through to make it 2-1 when Ryan Tesink beat Shane Owen on a medium range shot about two minutes later. Owen appeared to be screened on the play.
The Mallards did crank up the pressure going for the tying goal. Matt Carey had a great chance from the slot and Vladimir Nikiforov hit a post but that was the closest they would get to tying the game. The comeback effort was made tougher when the Mallards were called for two penalties in the final seven minutes of the game. Rhett Bly got an empty net goal for the Fuel in the final minute to seal the win. Cody Sharib had the primary assist on all three Fuel goals.
The loss dropped the Mallards into a tie for third place with the Cincinnati Cyclones. Mallards head coach Terry Ruskowski told the Dispatch-Argus: “Brody [Hoffman] played well again, but the guys I count on have really let me down. We’re just not winning the one-on-one battles anymore. We’re not passing the puck well. We’re not getting into position to score. I’m at my wits end.”
The Mallards road trip continues Friday starting with a game against the Kalamazoo Wings.