WICHITA, KS – The Quad City Mallards and Wichita Thunder faced off for the third time in seven days on Tuesday, when the Mallards sought their fourth win in as many outings. The Mallards are fighting for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, only four points behind the Fort Wayne Komets.
The action took a while to start, Sam Warning finally finding twine behind Scott Greenham at 16 minutes and 17 seconds of the opening frame. Kevin Gibson intercepted the attempted clearing pass along the right boards, tapping the puck to Alex Petan. Petan then sent the puck to Warning in the slot, who backhanded it past Greenham. Former Mallard Ryan Tesink then tied the game 97 seconds into the second period, Jamie Doornbosch and Ryan Rupert assisting. Tesink was in the crease with C.J. Motte, tipping the puck in from Doornbosch’s shot. The Mallards had contested the goal, saying it was kicked in by Tesink, but the referee had none of that.
Chris Francis gave the Mallards back the lead less than two minutes later, when he stole the puck at the blue-line after Macoy Erkamps fell. Francis sailed into the Wichita zone, netting the goal on the glove side. Michael Parks then added to the Mallards’ lead at 11:15 of the second period. Francis took the puck from the right Mallards’ dot, through center ice, and then streaked left at the blue-line. He passed to Mike Wilson, who went through Gretzky’s office before passing to Parks along the edge of the left dot. Parks went left to right, backhanding the puck in.
Off of the ensuing face-off, Jack Nevins and Ian Lowe dropped the gloves. The two had jawed as the linesman waited for the teams to settle for the face-off, Nevins wrapping the blade of his stick around Lowe’s right ankle before lifting it up. Their gloves flew off as they skated towards the Mallards’ zone. It came as no surprise that the 6’1” Mallard won the fight, as 5’9” Lowe was unable to connect more than a punch or two in the course of the short fight.
A further kerfuffle arose five minutes later, when Gerrad Grant boarded Grant Arnold behind Motte. Arnold was playing defense, skating hard for the puck with Grant on his trail. Gibson and Darryl Lloyd tried fighting but were quickly separated by the officials. Arnold was then slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a ten-minute misconduct while Grant served two for boarding.
With 65 seconds remaining in the game, Wilson scored on an empty net. Francis dropped the puck back to Wilson after carrying the puck through the neutral zone. A final kerfuffle erupted with 15 seconds left when Brady Brassart and James Melindy tussled in front of Greenham. A five-on-five scrum formed to the right of the Wichita goaltender after Melindy and Brassart were separated, but that scrum was broken up quickly. Melindy began to be escorted away, lunging at Brassart. Melindy then returned towards the secondary scrum that broke out, spearing Nolan LaPorte to receive a game misconduct and a spearing major.
The Mallards return home to face the Alaska Aces on Friday before facing off for the final time on Saturday. The Kelly Cup will be in Moline that night and puck drop is set for 7:05 CST.
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