MOLINE, IL — In front of a rowdy crowd of almost 7700, the Quad City Mallards fought hard with the Wheeling Nailers but couldn’t pull off the victory. CJ Motte had a stupendous night in goal, making 45 saves, but a lucky bounce from the ice in front of the Mallards net sealed the deal for a hometown loss.
The festive mood from Lighting on the Commons and Festival of Trees carried over to the opening minutes of the game. Michael Parks, in his second game back from injury, put the Mallards up 1-0 with help from Chris Francis and Mike Monfredo. Parks’ goal came just 22 seconds into the power play after Christian Hilbrich took a seat in the penalty box for tripping. Wheeling answered back with their own power play goal 15 minutes later, Adam Krause sending the puck into a gaping net after Motte couldn’t go coast to coast quickly enough. Brett Stern passed the puck from the left to the right side where Krause shot it in; Michael Webster also assisted.
In what would prove to be a preview of the end of the period, Kevin Gibson and Garrett Meurs engaged in some shoving roughly three minutes into the second period. The Nailers had dominated in the shot count through the first period, and would continue to do so in the middle frame, adding 18 to their already earned 15. The Mallards would be held to 13 for a two period total of 22.
As the horn sounded to finish the first 40 minutes of play, Gibson would tangle with Meurs and take him into the boards behind Motte. Alex Gudbranson would be close behind, shoving Andrew Ammon next to where Gibson and Meurs tussled. The only penalty to come from the post-whistle action would be a cross-checking minor assessed to Alex Petan.
Just under three minutes into period number three, Meurs would give Wheeling their first lead of the night off a rebounded shot. Ryan Segalla passed the puck to Krause, who took a shot. The puck bounced off Motte’s glove to the screening Meurs, who batted the biscuit in. Justin Kovacs entered the penalty box at 5:46 for tripping. At 8:11, he would enter the scoresheet for tying the game with help from Pavel Jenys and Brady Brassart.
Stern scored a goal of his own with barely over three minutes to play to finish the game in the visitors’ favor. The puck flew through the air off a pass before hitting the ice. The puck then bounced up and continued forward, just slipping over the glove of Motte.
The two teams will face off in Moline today at 4:05 CST, where the Mallards will hope to even the records.