WICHITA, KS – The Quad City Mallards and Wichita Thunder faced off on Wednesday, the Mallards hoping to get two points to cut the Fort Wayne Komets’ lead for second place in the Central Division to seven points.
Alex Petan was returned to the Mallards by the Cleveland Monsters on Tuesday, after spending more than a month with the Calder Cup champs, but did not suit up for his ECHL club against Wichita. Adam Gilmour also was reassigned to the Mallards on Monday by the Iowa Wild after being recalled on March 2.
The Mallards started the scoring out early, Chris Francis finding the back of the net behind Scott Greenham just over two minutes after the opening face-off. Alexander Kuqali passed the puck as he spun around at center ice near the benches, Francis taking the pass to send it over Greenham’s glove. Donnie Harris earned an assist on Francis’ goal as well. Six minutes later Gilmour took the face-off to Greenham’s right. The Mallard won the drop, sending it back to Michael Parks. Parks then rang the puck in from the right post, Greenham not having a chance to react before the puck was past him.
Parks scored again to drive Greenham out of the net, Drew Owsley replacing him. Kuqali, in the same spot as he had been for the last assist he earned, passed it to Chase Lang as the younger skater was streaking towards the blue line. Lang sent the puck to Parks as the latter skated along the half-boards of the penalty boxes, Parks then rifling it in over Greenham’s blocker. C.J. Motte’s shutout was ruined 57 seconds later when Maxime St-Cyr sent the puck to the twine after a turn-over in a corner by Grant Arnold. Randy Cure and Jeremy Beaudry were credited with the assists on St-Cyr’s goal.
Just under six minutes into the final frame a sense of déjà vu was felt by Mallards fans, as the Thunder drew within one with a play reminiscent of the Mallards’ second. St-Cyr won the face-off to Motte’s left, dropping the puck to Louick Marcotte, who scored. Matt DeBlouw had a chance to tie the game in the middle stages of the third period, receiving a sweet pass from Zach O’Brien, who had juked C.J. Motte out of his goalie pads, but shot the puck over the wide open net. Francis then extended the Mallards’ lead to two again with eight minutes left to go in regulation. The Mallards captain scored off a turnover when a Thunder player had attempted a blind pass in the right corner to clear the zone, but Francis was right there and got the puck.
Vincent Dunn left the game with one minute and 44 seconds left after receiving a ten-minute misconduct. Dunn had tried to fight Gilmour in the left Wichita corner after Gilmour had delivered a hit that Dunn didn’t like on a teammate. Dunn also earned two minutes for roughing, allowing the visitors to close out the game on the power-play. With three seconds left Parks scored an unassisted goal on the empty net, completing his hat-trick. This was the second hat-trick scored by a Mallard player in three days, as Sam Warning had also earned a hat-trick on Sunday against the Indy Fuel in the Mallards 8-7 loss.
The Mallards face off against the Komets on Friday at 7 pm in Moline.