MOLINE, IL – The orange sweaters appear to be imbued with bad luck, as the Quad City Mallards lost another contest while sporting the alternate uniforms. The Cincinnati Cyclones defeated the Mallards 6-2 Friday night in what could only be described as a poor performance by the home team.
The two teams shared aggressive play during the first period, the first ten minutes being roughly evenly matched between the teams. However, the game quickly turned in the Cyclones’ favor.
A defensive lapse following Andrew Blazek came out of the penalty box led to an uncontested breakaway against Brody Hoffman, Seth Ambroz managing to lift the puck to the very top corner stick-side. Jack Downing and Brett Wysopal assisted on the opening goal.
Colin Mulvey capitalized on a rebound after Branden Gracel took a shot, Wysopal earning another assist. Jonathan Diaby then went on to give Cincy a 3-0 lead at 17:35 of the first period with help from Zach Budish and Downing.
Mallard Jake Baker left the game late in the second period after being hit in the face with a puck as it careened off the glass. He immediately fell to the ice, being helped up by athletic trainer Jon Piche. Baker then began to skate to the bench before dropping to one knee, and then the other before staying hunched over for a moment. He proceeded to skate to the bench, but then headed to the locker room and did not return. He got an MRI following the game; no further word has been released as of writing.
The third period saw five goals scored, three of them in a row by Cincinnati. Joe Wilson slid the puck past Hoffman on a two-on-two breakaway and a rebound. Budish and Downing both assisted on Wilson’s goal.
Kyle Follmer played defense during the third period, having done so before when Baker had been recalled to the Manitoba Moose last week.
The Mallards believed they had scored a goal towards the middle of the final period, the goal light even going off, but it was waved off. The officials deemed that the puck had bounced off the post and not crossed the line, much to the displeasure of fans and players. A renewed energy was shown by the Mallards following the non-goal, but the team couldn’t come back from a 4-0 deficit.
Tommy Mele increased Cincy’s lead while on a delayed penalty powerplay, Steve Weinstein and Diaby assisting. A minute later, a breakaway by Budish would cement an already solid win for the visiting team.
Matt Neal ended Andy Iles’ shutout at 13:48, Vladimir Nikiforov and Matt Carey helping. The team was able to muster one more goal, Carey finding the back of the net with help from Kevin Gibson and Nikiforov.
With the Mallards loss, the Missouri Mavericks clinched a playoff berth. Currently, the Mavericks are first in the Western Conference in the standings. The Mallards are still four points out of a playoff spot.
The Mallards will face the Wichita Thunder Saturday night during Star Wars Night. The Mallards will don special edition Star Wars sweaters that will be auctioned off after the game to benefit Genesis Family Connects. Puck drop is set for 7:05 PM CST.