MOLINE, IL – The Tulsa Oilers returned to the TaxSlayer Center on Wednesday, taking on the Quad City Mallards in a rematch with a different result from Saturday’s contest between the two teams. While it is still early in the season, the Mallards’ play looked rough throughout most of the game. Whatever the team did on Wednesday before the game, they need not to do it on Saturday in Toledo. Maybe buy some new socks?
For the third straight game, the Mallards’ opponent scored a goal within the early minutes of play, this time the tally coming from Justin Selman. Former Mallard Vladimir Nikiforov passed the puck from the left trapezoid back to Selman at the edge of the left dot. Selman rocketed the puck into the net, Dmitrii Sergeev also earning an assist on that tally. Five and a half minutes into the game the Oilers were dominating in shots on goal, sending eight shots towards C.J. Motte for the Mallards’ zero against Devin Williams. Just over ten minutes after Tulsa’s first goal Adam Pleskach added to the lead by redirecting a shot by Chris Joyaux. Sergeev made his way onto the score sheet again with his second assist of the night on Pleskach’s goal. By the end of the period, Motte faced 22 shots for Williams’ nine.
The Mallards were able to get on the board just over two minutes into the second frame, though many believed that a Mallards goal had been scored at 86 seconds of the period. That non-goal, which most likely would have been Garrett Klotz’s, was waved off for being played with a high stick. The goal that counted, however, was scored by Sam Warning. Brayden Low passed the puck in the left trapezoid along the wall up to Justin Kovacs, who passed to Alexander Kuqali. Kuqali was standing at the center of the blue-line when he sent a slapper towards the net to be redirected by Warning at the top of the crease. Tulsa responded by scoring shortly after the Mallards goal.
Kevin Kirisits made his ECHL debut on Wednesday after being a healthy scratch the past two games and made his way onto the game sheet. At just over three and a half minutes into the sandwich stanza, Kirisits got a seat in the penalty box for an interference call behind Motte’s net. While the Oilers were on the power-play, there was a rebound that went like a magnet to Tommy Vannelli’s stick as he stood in front of the net. Motte was out of position after making a save, resulting in a gaping net above him as he sat on the ice. Though the Mallards defense tried to cover the net while Motte stood up, the ice was just a bit too slippery and play just a little too fast. Christophe Lalancette and Selman earned the apples on Vannelli’s tally, bringing the score up to 3-1.
Kovacs scored the Mallards’ last goal of the game a few minutes later with help from Warning and Chris Leibinger. Warning passed from the left dot near the crease back to Kovacs as the latter skated across the ice to the right dot level with Warning. The puck slid just under the crossbar before bouncing back out; Leibinger earned his first professional point with the assist.
The Mallards’ power-play unit came out early in the final frame after Charlie Sampair was charged with tripping 13 seconds into the period just before Dylan Hubbs was penalized for slashing at 46 seconds of the period. Unfortunately, the Mallards were feeling chivalrous and continuously passed the puck through the diamond formation, never taking a shot on goal.
After the wasted power-play, the Mallards did begin to pepper Williams with shots, and there were a lot of good scoring chances, but the bounces weren’t right. A gaping net, a shot from the left, and somehow the puck skittered along the goal line on the wrong side to leave the lamp unlit. Another shot went just wide to bang against the boards, a collective yell from the crowd amplifying the noise. Conner Bleackley extended Tulsa’s lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game, the puck sailing in from the left corner of the crease. Joey Sides and Alexandre Ranger were credited with the assists on Bleackley’s goal. With one minute and four seconds left Evan Richardson sent the puck into an empty net to seal the Oilers victory. Eric Drapluk appeared on the score sheet with the lone assist on that tally.
According to Bobby Metcalf, Motte and Keegan Kolesar were called up to the Chicago Wolves following the loss on Wednesday. That means that Ivan Kulbakov will be in net on Saturday when the Mallards take on the Toledo Walleye in Ohio at 6:15 CST.