MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards had hoped to turn things around after their Christmas break, having lost eight straight games before Friday night’s contest. Things didn’t go as planned, however, as they have now lost nine straight games. The Mallards were taken down by the Cincinnati Cyclones in a shoot-out after surrendering an early 3-0 lead in their first game back from the break.
Brayden Low scored a complete fluke of a goal just under two minutes into the opening frame, as his shot from the right side laid on the goal line after squeaking past the pad of Jonas Johansson. A Cyclones defender then tried to trap the puck between his stick and the pad of Johansson but instead knocked the puck into the net. Triston Grant and Matt Pohlkamp earned the assists on Low’s opening tally. Roughly two minutes later Grant scored a goal of his own from the point on the right side just in front of the visitors’ bench, the puck getting stuck between the upright and the twine. Willie Raskob picked up the only apple on the goal, which was not finished being announced before another goal was scored.
Kenney Morrison chased Johansson from the net to be replaced by Jason Kasdorf, this goal also coming from the point but on the left side to the goalie. Low earned his second point of the night with the primary assist, while Pohlkamp was credited with the secondary apple. Johansson faced six shots in four minutes before being replaced in net. After the first four minutes, things went downhill quickly for the Mallards.
Cincinnati got on the board with a power-play goal thanks to Winston Day Chief while Grant sat in the box for holding the stick. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and Alex Kile picked the apples for the goal which occurred after a scrum in front of Matt O’Connor. O’Connor couldn’t quite cover the puck in time to prevent Day Chief from scoring his tenth goal of the season. Six minutes later, while the Illinois-based team was once more on the penalty kill, Josh MacDonald appeared to score a short-handed breakaway goal, but the puck instead bounced off the left post. That has been a common occurrence for him lately, which doesn’t bode well due to him being one of last season’s top scorers.
After the horn sounded to send the players to the locker room, there was a conglomeration of players behind O’Connor. No penalties were awarded for extra-curricular activities, as no gloves were dropped and no truly serious insults were hurled apparently.
Both teams only amassed five shots on goal in the middle frame, but the Cyclones had better luck and managed to find twine to draw within one goal of the Mallards. The puck squeaked in past the glove of O’Connor, finding just enough space between the post and the glove as he hugged the post. Day Chief tallied his second goal of the night with that shot, Brandon McNally and Muzito-Bagenda going onto the score-sheet with the assists.
Three goals were scored in the third period, only one of them by the Mallards. Cincinnati started the action off just under three minutes into the final frame after Anthony Florentino scored his first professional goal from the left point. Justin Danforth, who would then go on to score in the shoot-out, had the only assist on the marker. Jake Bolton scored his first goal as a Mallard a few minutes later to give the Mallards back the lead, but it would be for naught. Bolton’s goal was yet another puck sent in from the point, this one from the right side and helped by MacDonald and Kyle Novak.
McNally went into the sin bin for a cross-checking call at 11:02 of the final frame, but not before refusing to fight Grant. The officials stopped the post-whistle action before it could begin, however, and as Grant skated towards his bench he sucked his thumb and made the crying motion as he faced McNally.
Cincinnati reaffirmed the fact that the Mallards are no good on the penalty kill a short while later, as Kile picked up a goal of his own to knot the score again. Day Chief and Arvin Atwal made their ways onto the score-sheet with the assists, that tally coming from the left circle.
The Mallards led in shots on goal 5-2 in the overtime period, but none were able to find twine. Instead, the game went to every goalie’s least favorite thing, the shoot-out. Danforth, the first shooter for the visitors, managed to find twine behind O’Connor. Kasdorf made a sprawling save on Gergo Nagy that was mentioned by Barstool Sports, and that was the best chance for the Mallards in the shoot-out. In all, O’Connor made 25 saves for Kasdorf’s 26.
For most of the game, the Mallards seemed afraid to hit anyone, their checks rather weak or even non-existent. Should they all pretend they’re the Hanson brothers? It’s probably not the best idea, but there does need to be more physicality. That would be a good starting point in heading in the right direction. Increasing a net-front presence is also useful, as one never knows when a rebound might come in the right direction and need just a little tap to kiss twine.
The Mallards will take on the Fort Wayne Komets at the TaxSlayer Center on Saturday at 7:05 for Report Card Night. After that, the team will travel to Kalamazoo for a 2 PM CST New Year’s Eve game.