MOLINE, Ill. – A quiet farewell wasn’t what the Quad City Mallards had in mind on Friday, and Kalamazoo shared the sentiments. In a game that repeatedly became deadlocked, a shootout was finally necessary to decide the contest. The Mallards could act as spoilers with a win, able to eliminate their old Central Hockey League foes the Kansas City Mavericks if the Cincinnati Cyclones also picked up two points that night.
Though out-shot 15-10 in the first period, the Mallards dominated play. They controlled possession of the puck for much of the frame, and if not completely in possession of it the puck was not kept for long by the Wings. The Mallards played an aggressive game, answered by the Wings in equal measure.
With thirty seconds remaining in the Mallards’ first penalty kill of the night, Justin Taylor lit the lamp behind Eric Hartzell. The puck was passed from the right dot across to the left goal line, where Taylor managed to send the puck into the net top shelf. The Mallards weren’t keen on the change in score, however.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Ryan McGrath went on a breakaway along the boards after receiving the puck from Kyle Novak. McGrath streaked in to Michael Garteig’s left, disturbing the water bottle behind the goalie as the puck met twine.
Kalamazoo took the lead back just under four minutes into the sandwich stanza when Jimmy Mullin beat Hartzell over the left shoulder from the right dot. At the faceoff to Hartzell’s right, Josh Pitt won the draw before dropping the puck to Mullin.
In what would be a common occurrence for the night, McGrath was checked hard into the boards at the Mallards’ blue line. The Mallard player wasn’t appreciative of the attention, and a scrum quickly grew when both Jake Bolton and Stanislav Dzakhov skated over to stand up for their teammate. Ben Wilson was assessed a minor for roughing from the scrum after punching Bolton in the face with his gloves on.
Dzakhov scored his first professional goal to tie the game at two apiece roughly four minutes after the scrum had broken out. Travis Armstrong assisted on the wraparound goal that came from right to left on Garteig.
Four goals were scored in the third period, one of which echoed one from the first period. After being held off the scoresheet during a power play, the Wings took the lead back just under two and a half minutes into the final frame. Kyle Blaney won the faceoff to Hartzell’s right, giving the puck to Lane Scheidl. Scheidl then shot from the far edge of the circle to bring down Hartzell’s save percentage.
Matt Pohlkamp scored after a breakaway out of the penalty box, and six minutes later Kalamazoo was once again in the lead. Brendan Bradley was credited with the goal that appeared to win the game for the visitors. Six minutes still remained in the game, however, and the Mallards were hungry for a win in front of a crowd of 5,402.
Alex Globke scored the goal to send the teams into overtime with only 27.5 seconds remaining on the clock. Hartzell had come off the ice to give the Mallards the extra attacker in hopes of tying, and tie it they did. There was a scrum in front of Garteig’s crease just outside of the blue paint, and as Globke fell the puck went in. With many bodies around it might have been difficult to see, but the official was adamant with his gesturing to the net that it was indeed a goal. Garteig disputed the goal, as there were bodies dangerously close to where they shouldn’t be, but after some conferencing, the officials decided the official was correct in his call.
A little more than two and a half minutes into the period of extra hockey, Aaron Irving went knee-to-knee on McGrath in Kalamazoo’s zone. McGrath was in great pain, attempting to skate off the ice but being unable to put weight on the knee and instead, laying on the ice writhing. Play went down to the Mallards’ zone as the home bench yelled at the officials for a whistle, as did Kalamazoo. As the puck scurried around the Mallards’ defensive zone Garteig came out of his crease to help McGrath towards the bench. A water bottle sailed through the air, and still play continued for several seconds before a whistle finally blew. Heated words were exchanged at one end of the ice as off-ice crew helped the injured McGrath off the ice.
After several minutes, it was decided that Irving would be assessed a five-minute penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct for the same call. Only three minutes was put on the penalty clock, however, as Nick Bligh went into the sin bin as well. The flying water bottle had originated on the Mallards’ bench, and had narrowly missed hitting a referee in the head. Instead, the referee was hit on the skate with the bottle.
The two teams decided to give the assembled crowd a show, as it took six rounds of the shoot-out to decide the game. For the Mallards, only Quentin Shore and Chris Izmirlian found the back of the net, while Danny Moynihan was the only player from Kalamazoo to beat Hartzell in the one-on-one portion of the game.
With the Mallards’ victory as well as Cincinnati’s victory, the Kansas City Mavericks were eliminated from playoff contention. Now only the Indy Fuel and Kalamazoo fight for the final berth in the Central Division.
The Mallards will close the 2017-18 season against the Cyclones. Puck drop is set for 7:05, and is a Jimmy Johns Fan Appreciation Night.
The TaxSlayer Center is running a season ticket renewal drive for $25. For that amount, fans can lock in one seat for the 2018-19 season. This deposit is fully refundable, and multiple seats can be bought. Those who put down a deposit, as well as current season ticket holders, are first in line for seats for the next season of Quad City hockey.
Don’t forget to follow @SinBinMallards on Twitter for the latest Mallards news in what is sure to be a busy offseason.