MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards defeated the Indy Fuel 5-3 on Saturday night to end their two-game losing streak, beginning a weekend series between the two teams. Two players were both on hat-trick watch after two periods, one on either team. Neither was able to complete their hat-tricks, however. The Mallards were out-shot once more, but Ivan Kulbakov stood strong in net to prevent another loss. The Mallards honored veterans throughout the night, welcoming six onto the ice as the starting military line-up. The team donned specialty VFW Post #1303 jerseys for the night, which will become warm-ups sweaters for the rest of the season before being auctioned off at the end of the year.
Brayden Low started the scoring off at eight and a half minutes into the first period, Matt Pohlkamp and Willie Raskob assisting. Pohlkamp brought the puck up from the defensive zone along the boards opposite the benches, deking around Frank Schumacher to Collin Delia’s left. Pohlkamp then passed to Low at the circle, who back-handed it in past Delia. Sam Warning added to the Mallards’ lead eight minutes later with help from newly assigned Tyler Wong. Wong was parked behind the net to Delia’s right and passed to Warning in front of the net. Warning went down on a knee as he took the shot, the goal also being assisted by Alexander Kuqali.
The Fuel struck back quickly Alex Wideman finding twine behind Kulbakov with 43 seconds remaining in the first period. The puck went coast to coast from Kulbakov’s left to right, Cam Reid with the primary assist. Andrew Schmidt was also credited with an apple on that tally.
At two minutes and twenty-two seconds of period number two, Warning scored his second goal of the night. 23 seconds later he dropped the gloves with Nathan Noel, who made his professional debut in Saturday’s match-up. Nick Bligh then scored twice within the span of two minutes and twenty-five seconds, his first goal being assisted by Wideman and Troy Vance. Wideman was skating around the back of the net from right to left and when he reached the trapezoid line he passed to Bligh at the doorstep. Bligh’s second goal was assisted by Reid and Michael Neal. Bligh crashed the net on Kulbakov’s left, causing the goalie to try to dispute the call, possibly because it appeared the puck could have been kicked in as Bligh stopped rather than bouncing in. The referee was rather insistent on it being a goal, however. Bligh’s tying goal came just as time expired on Wong’s high-sticking penalty, meaning that both teams’ penalty-kill units were perfect on the night.
Ryan McGrath scored his first goal as a Mallard a few minutes later, Pohlkamp and Raskob assisting. Pohlkamp brought the puck up the left side, passing it from the dot to McGrath in the low slot. Tristan King then put the final nail in the coffin at 16:52 of the final frame, Alex Globke and Kuqali with the apples. Delia thought he had it, but there was a scramble in front of the blue-paint and King snagged the puck to bat it in.
Before the game, the Fuel announced that they had picked up Alex Sakellaropoulos to take the place of Etienne Marcoux, who signed a Professional Try-Out Agreement with the Laval Rocket on Friday.
The Fuel and Mallards will face off again on Sunday at the TaxSlayer Center with the special Sunday start time of 4:05 CST.