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MOLINE, IL – On Sunday, the Quad City Mallards made their first cuts of the 2017 training camp, releasing Mark EsshakiIvan HodulovConnor Gorman, and Trever Hertz. All but Esshaki are forwards. The four had been signed to professional try-out agreements; Gorman and Hertz came out of the Southern Professional Hockey League, Gorman from the nearby Peoria Rivermen, while Hertz came from the Knoxville Ice Bears.

Also on Sunday, the remaining 13 forwards were placed into four lines. Sam WarningJustin Kovacs, and Alex Globke were on one line; Jamie TardifTristan King, and Josh MacDonald were another line; Stathis Soumelidis, Michael Pontarelli, Garret Klotz, and Matt Pohlkamp were the third line; and Ryan McGrath, Brayden Low, and Kyle Novak were the fourth line.

The team seems to be gelling well this year, perhaps better than seasons in the past. The on-ice chatting is at a high after coach Phil Axtell leaves the ice or gives the players time at the end of the day’s session for themselves, a difference from the camps I’ve covered in the past where the players would stay on the ice to work but without as much camaraderie.

“Axtell is fair; we’re just working hard and just trying to get ready for the season. Not too bad, but it’s good, it’s hard work,” Pontarelli said on Friday.

The Mallards will have an off-day on Monday before camp switches to the newly-minted TaxSlayer Center on Tuesday. Each of the three remaining days of camp are currently set to last from 11 am CST to 12:30 pm CST before the season opens on Friday.

The Mallards will take on the visiting Toledo Walleye on Friday the 13th at 7:00 pm CST.

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