INDIANAPOLIS, IN – It was quite the different outcome than what the Quad City Mallards wanted. After playing back to back games against the Missouri Mavericks on Friday and Saturday, the Mallards traveled 300 miles to Indianapolis for a 2 pm start time. The Mallards had played their hearts out in the last period on Saturday, and that was evident when they took the ice at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. After being down six to nothing after one frame, the Mallards rallied hard but fell just short. After their loss, the Quad Cities-based team’s only hope of clinching a playoff spot on Sunday was if the Tulsa Oilers lost, and lose they did against the Toledo Walleye in overtime.
C.J. Motte started for the Mallards, but only played just over nine minutes before being pulled. Mallards rookie Adam Vay, who earned his third career shut-out the previous night, had also played in Friday’s 3-2 Mallards victory. The four goals Motte let through came in a four and a half minute stretch; the first two in a span of 24 seconds. Matt Rupert opened the scoring at four and a half minutes into the game, Nick Bligh and Michael Neal assisting. Motte had turned his back towards the puck as he searched for it, and by the time he turned back around Rupert had already teed up for the goal. Jake Marchment added to the Fuel’s lead with help from Kenton Helgesen, the puck skimming along Motte’s right shoulder. Three minutes later Josh Shalla netted his twentieth goal of the season when he beat Motte five-hole after a failed clearing attempt by Kevin Gibson. Paul Zannette and Marchment earned the apples on that tally. The same play resulted in another goal, this time from Zanette’s stick; this was the goal that drove Motte from between the pipes.
Kenny Ryan netted the next two goals 32 seconds apart, beginning a hat-trick watch that would last until the end of the last period. Woody Hudson and Helgesen were credited with the assists on the first goal by Ryan, while Shalla and goaltender Josh Hildebrand earned the assists on the following goal. Both goals beat Vay’s glove, the goalie seemingly unable to follow the rocket-speed of Ryan’s shot. When the second period began, the Mallards started to play like they were third in their division. Guillaume Gelinas ended Hildebrand’s shut-out just 64 seconds into the second frame, Brady Brassart assisting. Sam Warning netted his first of the night nine minutes later, Justin Kovacs and Gelinas assisting. Warning then scored again a few minutes later, Chris Francis making his way onto the scoresheet with the assist. Brassart had entered the penalty box 17 seconds prior for a tripping call, making Warning’s second goal shorthanded. The Mallards were able to hold off the Fuel from scoring on the rest of the power-play, which was the last for the game.
Gelinas scored unassisted just over four minutes into the final period, but Bligh struck back to extend the Fuel’s lead to three goals. Nick Mattson and Neal assisted Bligh’s only goal of the game. Fifty seconds later Warning completed his hat-trick, Kovacs and Grant Arnold assisting. The time-clock on the highlight reel and the game sheet show different numbers for this goal, as the highlight reel shows the goal occurring at eight minutes and 57 seconds while the game sheet says the goal occurred at seven minutes and 35 seconds. Chase Lang continued the Mallards’ comeback with a goal assisted by Gibson with just over six and a half minutes remaining in the game.
Not wanting to be shown-up on home ice by a visitor, Ryan completed his own hat-trick unassisted on an empty net. With 18 seconds left, Kovacs put the Mallards within one with help from Alexander Kuqali and Arnold.
The Mallards travel to face the Wichita Thunder Wednesday night, with puck drop at 7:05.
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