MOLINE, IL – A hat-trick, a fight, and a changing of goalies were all part of the Quad City Mallards’ return to home ice after 15 days. The Rapid City Rush came visiting on Saturday, bringing former Mallards Anthony Collins and Logan Nelson, as well as Adam Morrison back back to the Quad Cities. Morrison had participated in the Mallards’ training camp last season before being cut due to the reassignments of Steve Michalek and Brody Hoffman by the AHL’s Iowa Wild.
Chris Francis opened the scoring just 74 seconds after the game began, slipping the puck past Austin Lotz with help from Kevin Gibson and Alex Gudbranson. Sam Warning scored his first goal of the night four minutes later, Grant Arnold and Justin Kovacs assisting. Arnold sent the puck to the net, Lotz mostly catching it; the puck slid out from between the body and elbow of Lotz, trickling towards the goal line. Lotz attempted to cover the puck with his glove, but the diving Warning poked the puck into the twine.
Nolan LaPorte extended the Mallards’ lead to 3-0 later in the first frame, Francis and Michael Parks getting the assists. Just over a minute later Warning scored again, sending the puck in off a backhand shot from the left of Lotz’ infront of the crease. Andrew Panzarella and Kovacs made their ways onto the scoresheet with the apples on that tally, helping to chase Lotz from the net. Morrison replaced the angry goalie, who threw his stick in the player tunnel after leaving the ice. Warning completed his hat-trick two minutes later with help from Arnold and Panzarella.
C.J. Motte‘s shutout was ruined 36 seconds into the final frame by Terrence Wallin. The Mallards’ defense appeared to breakdown, allowing Hunter Fejes and Aleksander Mikalovich to assist on the goal. Panzarella earned a double minor for high-sticking at nine minutes and 56 seconds of the third. With 16 seconds remaining on the power play, Tristan Grant scored off a face-off; Brayden Low got the only apple on that tally.
Lindsay Sparks drew the visitors to within two goals at the 16:37 mark, but three goals was all his team would get. Riley Weselowski and Ryan Walters assisted Sparks’ goal.
Alexander Kuqali made his Mallards debut after being acquired from the Florida Everblades on Tuesday.
The Mallards face the Kalamazoo Wings at home on Friday February 10th at 7:00 CST.