MOLINE, IL – The Quad City Mallards suffered a costly setback to the Rapid City Rush at the iWireless Center Saturday night. The Mallards came into the game three points behind the Colorado Eagles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. With only nineteen games left in the regular season, every game counts. Unfortunately, the Rush took advantage of a few bad mistakes by the Mallards to win 5-2.
The first error happened less than two minutes into the game. Mike Monfredo and Matt Neal had a miscommunication on a pass. The result was the pass went right to Spencer Pommells of Rapid CIty who was able to skate right into the crease and beat Brody Hoffmann to give the Rush a 1-0 lead.
The Mallards play improved the rest of the first period. They tied the game when Matt Carey made a great move to set up a close shot from the slot. Raphael Bussieres and Alex Gudbranson had assists on the goal.
At the 7:45 mark of the second period, Taylor Doherty took a shot that was headed over the crossbar. Cody Ferriero tipped the shot from in front of the net and the puck went into the goal just below the crossbar. The referee and linesman discussed whether Ferriero used a high stick to touch the puck, and ultimately ruled it was not. This gave the Rush a 2-1 lead.
The Mallards tied the game two minutes later. Olivier Archambault got into the crease and beat Rush goaltender Sam Marotta low. The goal was set up by a nice pass by Kyle Follmer, who was moved to defense for this game due to the call-up of Jake Baker to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
During the goal celebration, Archambault made a mental error and was called for slashing. This gave the Rush their only power play opportunity of the night, and they converted to go up 3-2. Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel found himself with no one between himself and Hoffman, and took a slap shot. The puck deflected off of Hoffman’s shoulder and into the goal.
The Mallards may have gotten a bad break on the Rush’s fourth goal. The Mallards had the puck in the offensive zone. It popped up behind the Rush goal and appeared to hit the netting, which would have blown the play dead. Instead, play continued and the Rush got a three on two break the other way and Doherty scored on a pass from Pommells.
In the third period the Rush added another goal. With a three goal lead they were content to cycle the puck and take time off of the clock. The Mallards were just not able to get anything going on offense. The loss combined with an Eagles win dropped the Mallards to five points out of a playoff spot.
Attendance was a bright spot this weekend. The Mallards drew 5,719 fans on Friday and 5,823 on Saturday. This pulled their season average per game up to 4,252 per game, an increase of 356 fans per game over last season. With four Friday games and two Saturday games left, there is a good chance to raise it further.
The Mallards dropped to 2-2-0-0 on this seven game homestand. They can still put together a good homestand if they play well in the final three games. Next they face the Utah Grizzlies on Wednesday, the first ever game between the two teams.