MOLINE, IL – The shorthanded special teams were on display when the Adirondack Thunder faced the Quad City Mallards on Wednesday for the first and only time this season. There were two short-handed goals scored, while the teams combined for 11 penalties through the night. Ivan Kulbakov faced off against Nick Riopel, the Mallard goalie facing 34 shots for Riopel’s 23.
The Mallards managed to not give up a goal in the first four minutes of play, instead, giving up a goal around the seven-minute mark of the first period. Conor Riley shot the puck from the far edge of the right circle, Paul Rodrigues attempting to deflect it in from the top of the blue paint. Kulbakov made the first save, but the rebound bounced to Terrence Wallin to net the first goal of the game.
The Mallards had only amassed four shots on goal before Wallin scored, not getting another shot on goal until roughly 16:30 of the opening frame. Something wasn’t right with the team, their passes either soft or straight to an opposing player. The Thunder had sustained pressure in the offensive zone, at one point looking like they were on a power-play.
Josh MacDonald had a couple of good breakaway chances but wasn’t able to tie the game. On his second breakaway, he was tripped from behind, earning him a penalty shot. He was unable to pull the trigger, the puck skittering off of Riopel’s left pillow. With just under two minutes left in the first, Eric Neiley added to the Thunder’s lead with help from James Henry and Pierre-Luc Mercier. Kulbakov did the splits as he slid coast-to-coast, but the puck sailed over his blocker to meet twine in the behind him.
The Mallards then began a parade to the penalty box, five penalties being called on them in the second period. Alexander Kuqali started things off by earning a hooking call 28 seconds into the frame. There would be two different bench penalties during the following twenty minutes, both for too many men on the ice. Just under a minute after Kuqali left the box Justin Kovacs entered it to serve the first bench minor. While Kovacs was in there, Brayden Low scored an unassisted short-handed goal for the only Mallards tally of the night. Low raced up the half-boards, slipping it five-hole from the top of the crease. Low then had another good scoring chance about two minutes later, almost deflecting the puck in after Michael Pontarelli passed it to him from the left boards. The deflection didn’t quite pan out, however.
Just past the midway mark of the game, Ty Loney scored the insurance goal from the mid-slot. Kevin Lough and Shane Conacher earned the apples on Loney’s tally, which was not the last of the night to be scored. With 8.7 seconds left Henry scored an unassisted short-handed empty-net goal to end the game on a low note for Mallards fans.
The Mallards continue their three-game home-stand on Friday when they take on the Indy Fuel at 7:05 CST.
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