This has been an eventful last few days for the Mallards. On Wednesday the Mallards faced the Tulsa Oilers. They lost the game 2-0, and by all accounts it was a pretty poor effort by the Mallards. After the game Coach Ruskowski kept the Mallards on the ice for 30 minutes, and made the team skate laps and sprints. According to the Quad City Times this was the first time Ruskowski has done this with a team since he was coaching the Columbus Chill in the early 1990s. I asked on the Mallards Fan Group on Facebook, and no one could remember any Mallards team being forced to skate after a loss like this. Someone did find an old article that said coach Paul MacLean skated the team like this after a loss, but that was in the next practice. Keeping a team on the ice immediately after the game to skate was a first.
Next up the Mallards faced the Americans on Friday. Fans were very anxious to see how the Mallards would respond. A number of other factors added to the tension as well. The Mallards have played really poorly in Friday night games this year, which I documented previously. The Americans are the best team in the ECHL and the last game between the two teams was very contentious. This game was similar with a lot of shoving, chirping, and a couple fights. It was a very evenly played game throughout. The game would be decided on a wild play at the very end. Matt Duffy took a shot from near the blue line that hit the inside of the post. The goal light came on and the crowd of 6,310 erupted into cheers. In the uproar it was lost for a moment that referee Kenny Anderson was signalling “no goal” over and over. Kevin Baker never gave up on the play and found the rebound and put it in the net with just 12.8 seconds left. Americans Coach Steve Martinson argued the play but the goal stood. A wild ending, and the Mallards first Friday home win since November 21st.
Saturday’s game versus the Americans had a lot less fighting and shoving than Friday’s game, but it was similarly close and evenly played. About halfway through the second period with the score 1-1, Jannik Christensen was bringing the puck back into his own end and tried to pass it off the boards behind the goal. He did not have good control of the puck, and he ended up scoring an own-goal. Mosher was out of the net and obviously not expecting a shot. The iWireless Center was about as quiet as 5,416 people can be. I can’t say I’ve seen an own-goal like that, except on video. I have seen where the puck is in the crease and someone tries to clear and it pinballs around and ends up in the net. It was a blow the Mallards would not overcome, and they ended up losing 3-2. I would not totally blame the loss on that play, as the Mallards could only muster 1 goal through 58 minutes of play, but it definitely hurt their chances.
Next up the Mallards face the Mavericks on Wednesday. What will that game have in store for us?