MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards are having the same difficulties their parent team, the Minnesota Wild, are currently facing in their own first round playoff series. The Mallards are now down three to nothing in the series against the Fort Wayne Komets, game three at least going to overtime. The Mallards are now faced with the nearly impossible task of winning four straight games.
Is it possible? Well, technically anything is possible.
Game three started out well for the Mallards, Michael Parks putting his team on the board just one minute and 27 seconds into the game. Brady Brassart was to Pat Nagle’s right, and the puck bounced from him to Parks. Josh MacDonald was also credited with an assist on that tally. Neither team seemed able to keep the puck for terribly long, play constantly shifting from one end to the other. The Mallards did manage to outshoot their opponents through the game, ending the first period ahead 17-12. But it wasn’t a scoreless period for the Komets.
Mason Baptista passed from Gretzky’s office to Mike Cazzola in front of the crease, who sent it in past C.J. Motte. Shawn Szydlowski made his way onto the scoresheet with the secondary assist on that goal. The goal came just four seconds before the halfway mark of the first frame.
Tensions began to boil over later in the frame, when Cazzola tried to wrestle with Brassart, only to be face-washed by Alex Petan. That was as far as the referees allowed that tussle to go, however, but it wouldn’t be the last one of the night. Grant Arnold and Trevor Cheek began a polite conversation in front of their respective benches while going for a line-change, but they were ushered off the ice while play continued behind them. Petan and Will Weber would also wrestle, with their gloves on, after Jack Nevins and Cody Sol tried to start a fight.
The Komets took a 2-1 lead early in the middle period, Gabriel Desjardins sliding the puck five-hole with help from Garrett Thompson and Dan Milan. Just over 11 minutes later the Mallards tied the game. Justin Kovacs passed from Nagle’s right to Brassart, who tried jamming the puck in while he was on his knees. That didn’t quite work, but Sam Warning picked up the rebound and fired it in over Nagle’s glove just a few seconds after Baptista left the box for high-sticking.
Kyle Thomas was credited with a goal that drew ire from fans and the Mallards alike. It appeared that the puck bounced off of Thomas’ hand or shoulder and into the twine; some argued that it was his stick, which was above the level of the cross-bar. Szydlowski earned an assist on that goal, as did Travis Ewanyk.
Arnold and Milan were sent to the box for coincidental roughing minors at seven minutes and 44 seconds of the final period, putting each team down to four men for a stretch. Trevor Cheek then put the Komets down another man when he was slapped with a goaltender interference call less than 30 seconds later. He had tried to crash the net, but instead crashed the goalie.
Petan scored the goal that would send the teams to overtime, burying a one-timer of a rebound after a MacDonald shot. Brassart earned his second assist of the night on Petan’s mark. Roughly five minutes later Warning was streaking down the center of the Komets’ zone on an uncontested breakaway when he was tripped from behind and brought to the ice. No call was made, and no penalty shot was rewarded after Warning slid into the net.
With eight seconds remaining before the overtime period, Arnold lost his helmet during play. While heading towards the bench, he was in the way of a Komets shot and blocked it with his body. The whistle blew, and he was sent to the penalty box for playing without his helmet. The Komet power-play extended into the overtime period, but Thomas sent the first shot of the extra hockey to kiss the twine just 22 seconds after the face off. Cazzola and Ryan Lowney earned the apples on the game-winning goal.
The two teams meet again on Friday at the iWireless Center, where the Mallards will attempt to begin the feat of winning four in a row. Puck drop is set for 7:05 CST.
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