In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Quad-City Mallards went from a plethora to a pittance on the blue line.
Just one week ago, the Mallards had one of the deepest defensive corps in the league, with nine defensemen. By Tuesday morning, that number was down to six, the product of a trio of roster transactions made in the last week.
Last week, the Mallards released defenseman Kevin Kirisits, then felt the sting from the American Hockey League.
Dmitry Osipov was recalled to the Chicago Wolves on Saturday, and Jacob Graves was reassigned to the Cleveland Monsters Monday.
"We were having success but it's part of the game, lose two guys to call ups and another guy to injury, we only had five guys on the ice today," Mallards head coach Phil Axtell said. "We're just going to have to play simple and keep the puck in front of us."
The shuffling means Kyle Follmer will move back to defense after playing up at forward over the weekend, where he was successful, scoring a goal and adding an assist in Saturday's win over Kansas City.
The Mallards also acquired defenseman Jake Bolton from the Florida Everblades Tuesday afternoon, completing the offseason trade that sent forward Nolan LaPorte to the Everblades in July.
Bolton has split 10 games this season between Wheeling and Florida, scoring one goal and adding two assists and a plus-2 rating. In 72 career ECHL games, Bolton has four goals, 14 assists, 28 penalty minutes and is minus-21.
While the roster has shuffled in the last week, the changes could carry some benefits. Players who hadn't seen as much playing time now know their role and will have to step up their game accordingly.
"With this league, you never know, guys are going up, guys are coming down, there's a lot of changes, day in and day out," said Greg Amlong, who has played in 12 of the team's 19 games this season. "You've just got to be mentally prepared whether you have five 'D' or nine 'D.' You've just got to fight for your job to play and when you get a chance you've got to prove to stay in."
The Mallards have had a lot of moving parts to all facets of their lineup. Goaltender C.J. Motte has only played five games, spending a month up with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. Several defensemen have been in and out of the lineup due to the depth and injury. Forwards Justin Kovacs and Chris Francis — key pieces from last year's team — have missed considerable playing time, though Francis is expected to make his season debut this weekend.
Still, things seem to be coming along as the Mallards are improving on special teams, in their own zone and offensively.
"I think everyone now is really buying into our systems, we're setting things up, coaches are giving us details and organizing things for the game and guys are really starting to buy in and realize that you have to if you want to win in this league," Amlong said. "We're about 90 percent, have one or two guys out right now ... I think we're headed in the right direction with guys coming back from injuries, getting back into our systems, I think we're doing everything about just right."
Norfolk to Nashville nixed: Just six months after it began, the working affiliation between the Norfolk Admirals and the NHL's Nashville Predators was terminated last week. In May, the two teams agreed to an affiliation, but in a surprising move, the affiliation is now over.
The move came two weeks after the Admirals fired their president, Michael Santos.
The Admirals have started the season 7-13-1 and are in sixth place in the South Division.
Moonwalk to melee: Kalamazoo Wings defenseman Eric Kattelus provided a wealth of entertainment over the weekend, with a unique celebration leading to a line brawl in a pair of games against Kansas City.
It started last Wednesday, when Kattelus celebrated a goal by emulating Michael Jackson's famous moonwalk dance in the neutral zone during the Wings' 4-1 win over the Mavericks. The clip received national attention, even earning coverage from ESPN.
Friday, things got out of hand when a line brawl ensued between the two teams 10 minutes into the first period, which included a fight between goaltenders Mason McDonald and Joel Martin. In total, 25 penalties were handed out in the game for 90 total minutes.
The line brawl may have done the trick for the Mavericks, who rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 that night.
Players of the week: Reading Royals forward Matt Willows was named the Sher-Wood Hockey player of the week for the second time in his career. Willows scored one goal and added five assists in three games last week.
Tulsa Oilers goaltender Jake Hildebrand was named the CCM goaltender of the week for the third time in his career. Hildebrand went 1-1-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and a save percentage of .949 in three games last week.
This week: The Mallards' road trip continues with games in Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne this weekend.
Friday, the Mallards travel to Kalamazoo to face the Wings at 6 p.m. This is the first meeting of the year between the two teams after the Mallards went 3-2-3 against the Wings last season.
Saturday, the Mallards travel to Fort Wayne to face the Komets at 6:30 p.m. The Mallards are 0-1-0 this year against the Komets.
Both games can be heard on Fox Sports Radio 1230 AM.