MOLINE, IL — The Quad City Mallards defeated the Utah Grizzlies 4-2 tonight in their first meeting, putting the Mallards only five points out of a playoff spot. P.J. Musico made his Mallards debut tonight, earning second star of the game as well as a win.
Mike Monfredo took a seat in the penalty box just 16 seconds into the game after a boarding minor. This proved to be a beneficial occurrence for the Mallards, as Jared Knight scored shorthanded to open the scoring on the night. Matt Neal got the puck just outside the Mallards’ blue line at the dot after the zone was cleared, passing it to Knight who then passed it back quickly. Neal took the puck down the ice, sending off a shot that bounced off Mark Owuya and to Knight, who buried the rebound.
Before the goal had been announced — or the fans had finished celebrating — Olivier Archambault scored again on the penalty kill with help from Zach Pochiro. It was the team’s fastest start since scoring two goals in the first 2:16 against the St. Charles Chill in the Central Hockey League on Oct. 26, 2013.
Four minutes after the Mallards took a 2-0 lead, Charles Sarault struck back while on the powerplay. Mike Ratchuk and Ryan Hayes assisted on Sarault’s goal as Pochiro sat in the box.
The Mallards were able to keep the score knotted at 2-1 through a 4-on-4 stretch after Matt Carey and Barry Almeida earned penalties for roughing and slashing, respectively. While in the box, Almeida continued jawing at Carey.
Archambault extended the lead 3-1 after the puck barely managed to trickle in as Owuya turned to make the save. Kevin Gibson earned a tally on the scoresheet for an assist on Archambault’s second goal of the night.
Monfredo and Shayne Taker dropped the gloves at 18:46 of the first period, Monfredo managing to knock Taker’s helmet off before wrestling him to the ground. Both skaters retired to the locker rooms early after their fisticuffs.
After the ensuing face-off, former Rapid City Rush player Cody Ferriero and Jake Baker exchanged a few words and shoves along the halfboards. Pochiro also engaged in some antagonistic actions with Ferriero, earning two minutes for roughing and a ten minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Ferriero earned the same penalties, as the two had attempted to fight after the linesmen had pulled them away from each other.
With under four minutes left in the second period Almeida scored again to draw the Grizzlies within one goal yet again. Alex Krushelnyski and Sarault assisted on the goal.
Owuya earned a delay of game penalty while attempting to clear the puck, putting the Grizzlies on a 5-on-3 penalty kill after Sarault had been called for hooking less than 20 seconds earlier. Owuya attempted to bank the puck off the glass in his zone, but aimed a little high and instead hit the netting.
As he skated back to the net, he repeatedly punched his stick and shook his head, as if saying, “bad stick! bad!” The Mallards were unable to capitalize on the two-man advantage, however, as the Grizzlies did well on not allowing any open shooting lanes.
Archambault scored the game-winning goal at 8:36 of the final frame, unleashing a shower of hats for his third goal of the night.
With the Mallards’ victory, the Missouri Mavericks were unable to clinch a playoff spot.
Prior to the game, the Mallards acquired veteran forward Jordan Knackstedt from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for future considerations. The 27-year-old forward compiled 31 points (12g, 19a) and 45 penalty minutes in 45 games with the Swamp Rabbits this season. He signed with Greenville as a free agent on November 4 after playing 10 contests with Kaufbeuren ESV in the DEL-2 German league last season.
The Knackstedt move ended up being a number’s game for Greenville, as the team was one over the veteran limit (4) with the addition of Jack Combs to the Greenville lineup.
The Mallards will face the Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:05 PM on Friday for another $1 Hot Dog/ $1 Beer Night presented by 97X. Augustana College students can ride the Metro bus for free with just a flash of their student id to and from the game on Friday as well.