The Quad-City Mallards offense needed a shot in the arm.
They might have found it Monday re-signing forward Chris Francis. The team also released forward Michael Pontarelli.
Francis served as team captain last year and finished tied for the team lead with 60 points, scoring 27 goals and adding 33 assists in 63 games.
Francis was re-signed by the team this offseason but never skated in training camp after an upper-body injury caused him to fail his entrance physical.
The Mallards released Francis on Oct. 12 but he has spent the last month and a half rehabbing the injury.
“Chris has worked extremely hard to overcome this injury so we couldn’t be happier for him to have reached the point where he’s ready to put on the Mallard jersey again,” head coach Phil Axtell said. “Obviously, he played a key role for us last season and we’re looking forward to him making an impact once he’s back in our lineup.”
Francis' return should help the Mallards, who are in fifth place in the Central Division with 15 points and average a league-worst 2.24 goals per game this season.
Pontarelli played nine games this season for the Mallards without recording a point.
Slow starts: The biggest problem for the Mallards this year has been starting slow in each game. The Mallards are getting outscored by 16 goals in the first period of games. That's the worst goal differential for any team in any period this season.
The Mallards are winless when trailing after one period and are 1-9-0 when trailing after two periods.
However, if the Mallards can avoid digging themselves a hole, they've been successful. When tied after one period, the Mallards are 6-1-1 and are 4-0-1 when tied after two periods.
So the focus has been on getting out to better starts in each game.
"The process, you've got to trust it," defenseman Alexander Kuqali said. "It's not going to happen overnight, it's not going to happen at the beginning of the season. Sometimes there's going to be growing pains ... I think we're getting in a good groove, we're getting more comfortable with what we're trying to do."
Murray back behind the bench: Tulsa Oilers head coach Rob Murray made his return to the bench Friday after suffering a medical emergency against the Mallards on Nov. 17. Murray was taken to the hospital with fatigue and dehydration after collapsing in the second period of the game against the Mallards.
The Oilers won in Murray's return, beating the Rapid City Rush 3-1.
This week: The Mallards travel to Indianapolis to face the Indy Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Mallards are 3-0-0 against the Fuel this season.
The Mallards travel to Independence, Missouri to take on the Kansas City Mavericks at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Mallards are 1-2-0 this season against the Mavericks.