MOLINE, IL — The Quad City Mallards began a three games in three nights stint on Friday, taking on the Kalamazoo Wings at home. The arena was packed with just under 5000 people, and the crowd displayed no qualms about their volume through the night.
The Mallards had sustained pressure on the Wings during the early minutes, Adam Vay seeing almost no action to begin. Blake Kessel got the night’s first penalty after cross-checking Jack Nevins in the face in front of the visitors’ bench a little over halfway through the first frame, also earning a ten-minute misconduct penalty for arguing with the referee. 69 seconds later, Chris Francis put the Mallards on the board with help from Michael Parks and Kevin Gibson.
Justin Kovacs extended the Mallards’ lead with a tally from just past the goal line in front of the goalie no-fly zone to Joel Martin‘s left halfway through the game. This goal, which also came on the man-advantage as Scott Henegar sat in the box for interference, was assisted by Josh MacDonald and Andrew Panzarella. MacDonald added to his first point as a Mallard by scoring his first goal in a Quad City sweater just two and a half minutes later. Francis and Nick Grasso assisted on the goal that drove Martin from the net to be replaced with Nick Riopel. MacDonald’s goal was scored from the same spot as Kovacs’ was earlier.
Kessel was ejected from the game 3:34 into the final period after jawing at Mallards players and the officials as well. The fans cheered as Kessel skated off the ice, obviously not a favored opponent.
Just under 10 minutes into the third period, the fans held their collective breath as the puck skittered near the goal line beside Vay in front of a gaping net after a rebound. Vay made the diving save, going post to post to prevent any trash from being cleaned up on him.
Nevins sealed the deal with 22 seconds remaining on the clock, burying the puck into the empty net from near center ice with help from Parks.
Vay earned his first career shutout after making 31 saves on the night, helping his team to their fifth straight victory. On the other end, the Mallards had succeeded in driving out the opposing starting netminder for the second consecutive game.
The Mallards take on the Elmira Jackals on Saturday at 7:05 PM for Pirates and Princess Night. The following day, the two teams will square off again in a matinee game at 4:05pm.