MOLINE, IL – It was a dank and dreary night in Moline, a herald of what was to come for the Quad City Mallards. A three-goal lead quickly vanished amongst the fog, while a body materialized from the vapors of the past.
Chris Izmirlian started things off for the Mallards just 69 seconds into the game, send in a Ryan McGrath pass by Cyclones netminder Jonas Johansson. McGrath, who was in the right trapezoid, passed to Izmirlian at the left corner of the crease, where the recent signing got the on scoresheet for the second time in as many games. Another recent signing, Travis Armstrong, also notched an assist on the goal. Two minutes later the Mallards added to their lead thanks to Jared Nightingale, who came out of retirement for a single game, as he now serves as assistant coach for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Saturday night, the Lancers were in Des Moines playing the Buccaneers, allowing Nightingale the opportunity to play one more game.
As Keegan Kolesar brought the puck into the offensive zone along the left boards, he tripped on the blue line. Nightingale was there to pick up the puck, sniping a wrister in to double the score. Matt Pohlkamp then put the Mallards up 3-0 with help from Willie Raskob and Alex Globke. Pohlkamp sent a backhanded shot through the five-hole as he skated up from behind the net, the puck bouncing through Johansson’s pads first.
A minute later, the Cyclones’ comeback was on.
Twenty-one seconds after going on the power play, as Sam Warning was guilty of tripping, Justin Danforth ended Jake Paterson’s shutout bid. Danforth cleaned up the garbage in front of Paterson, Justin Vaive and Daniel Muzito-Bagenda picking up the assists. A few minutes later the visitors drew within one after a series of redirections that beat Paterson as he slid post-to-post. Arvin Atwal batted the puck back to the right, where Brandon McNally tapped it in. Chris Leone also made his way onto the scoresheet with an assist on McNally’s goal.
The second period saw tempers begin to flare, and special teams showcase their abilities, as after Jamie Tardif doubled up the score again a kerfuffle broke out. Warning passed from the near edge of the right dot to Tardif near the crease, Kolesar picking up another assist. It was as McGrath skated over to join the celebration that Anthony Florentino shoved him, and the two exchanged a couple shoves before the two teams converged to voice their disapproval. Cincinnati then struck with two quick goals to knot the score at four apiece before the teams headed to the locker rooms for the second intermission.
Vaive was screening Paterson when Danforth shot the puck from the far edge of the left dot, deflecting the shot in to continue the comeback. The goal was originally credited to Danforth, but during the break, it was corrected to Viave; Muzito-Bagenda tallied an assist on the power-play goal. Alex Kile was in the slot and sent the puck in top shelf to tie the game, making Mallards fans wonder if it was going to turn into another shellacking a la Friday’s contest against the Kalamazoo Wings.
The Mallards managed to convert on a power-play in the final frame with just over two and a half minutes to play, Tardif scoring his second goal of the night with help from Jake Bolton and Kolesar. Kolesar and Bolton have both been hot the past weekend, Bolton tallying four assists in three games while Kolesar has notched four goals and three assists in the same timeframe.
The Cyclones pulled their goalie with roughly two minutes remaining, and the extra attacker gave the team the boost needed to tie the game just a few seconds later. It was Vaive who sent the game into overtime, Jesse Schultz and Danforth assisting.
Just over 90 seconds into the period of extra hockey, Vaive completed his hat-trick with the game-winning goal.
In all, Paterson turned away 23 of 29 shots for Johansson’s 36 saves on 41 shots. The shot differential was very pronounced in the first period, when the Mallards led 19 to seven. For most of the game, the Mallards were an aggressive team – finishing their checks, fighting for the puck, and showing the hard hits that fans so desperately want to see.
The Mallards will take to the road for a three-game road trip starting on Wednesday, first taking on the Brampton Beast and then the Worcester Railers Friday and Saturday. Puck drop on Wednesday is set for 6:15 CST. The next chance to catch the Mallards at home is January 31, another Wednesday game, against the Cyclones; that opening face off will be at 6:30 CST.