MOLINE, IL – The hat trick that wasn’t decided the game between the Tulsa Oilers and the Quad City Mallards. The Mallards were out-manned and out-shot, but they weren’t out-fought in the matinee game on Martin Luther King Jr Day.
Tulsa began the scoring early after Mike Monfredo failed to clear a bouncing puck in front of the net. The puck bounced back to Garrett Ladd, who found twine unassisted. 41 seconds later, Ned Lukacevic scored his first goal as a Mallard, tying the game with help from Chris Francis and Justin Kovacs. Lukacevic skirted the edge of the crease, skating from Jamie Phillips‘ left to his right to send the puck in.
Nolan LaPorte gave the Mallards their first lead of the afternoon with a goal that astounded. LaPorte, as he came around the back of the net, shot the puck from the goal line on Phillips’ left. The puck then bounced off Phillips’ left pillow and into the net. Michael Parks and Brady Brassart assisted on the goal that came just under 8:30 into the first frame.
Tulsa dominated the first period in shots on net, amassing 11 for the Mallards’ six. This continued into the second period with C.J. Motte facing ten more shots than Phillips did. In total, the shot count was 36-24 at the end of the game. The Mallards seemed to be out-skated through most of the game, and it was perhaps only Motte’s efforts that kept the hometeam from being down even farther.
The Oilers scored three times in the second before the Mallards could get on the board again, two of those goals coming off of rebounds. Phil Brewer tied the game 22 seconds into the middle frame, Shawn Bates and Kale Kessy assisting. Christophe Lalancette returned the Oilers to the lead 14 minutes later after taking a pass from Danick Paquette and Tyson Wilson. 40 seconds after Lalancette’s goal, LaPorte entered the penalty box for high sticking. Wes Cunningham scored while LaPorte was still in the box, making the score 4-2. Emerson Clark and Eric Drapluk assisted on the power play goal.
Just under 30 seconds later, Alex Gudbranson took a seat for cross-checking. LaPorte got his second tally of the night 14 seconds later with help from Brassart and Guillaume Gelinas. He breezed past the Tulsa defenders, almost appearing to lose the puck before he could get a shot off; the puck slid along Phillips’ pad and into the net. Clark was then given a ten minute misconduct as the Mallards fans celebrated the goal. He was then given a game misconduct for abuse of officials at the 20 minute mark of the same period.
Tensions boiled over in the final frame, Jack Nevins and Paquette dropping the gloves about halfway through the frame. Paquette was on the bench, however, and so both combatants earned game misconducts for fighting off the playing area in addition to the usual five minutes for fighting.
A minute later LaPorte complete his hat-trick, but the officials immediately waved it off. According to the officials, Brassart had interfered with Phillips and so the goal was disallowed due to incidental contact. However, Brassart was not penalized for goalie interference. This was not the first time that an interference or no interference call had possibly decided the game for the Mallards and another team. On replay, it looked only as if Brassart was screening, but the call stood.
The Oilers then began to dominate even more than before; the Mallards appeared to have let the call go to their heads and began sloppy play. Bates scored into the empty net with just 25 seconds remaining in the game, Ladd assisting. LaPorte, his frustration having reached a peak, threw his stick as the goal-light was lit. He earned a ten minute misconduct for his actions.
As the final horn sounded and Coach Terry Ruskowski walked off the bench, he waved his hand in front of his eyes several times while looking at the referee’s crease, showing what he thought of the calls.
The Mallards return from the All-Star break on Friday, facing off against the Missouri Mavericks at 7:00PM before heading to Independence the next two days.