On the whole, it's been a very positive two weeks for the Quad-City Mallards.
The Mallards have won four straight games, equaling their longest stretch of the season, and have earned at least a point in their last five games, their longest regulation unbeaten stretch of the year.
The Mallards are averaging 4.20 goals during that stretch and are holding teams to 2.80 goals. Ten different players have scored, including Nolan LaPorte who is on a five-game points streak and Michael Parks, who has scored four goals in his last five games to move into the team lead with 10 goals.
"Going to the net and getting pucks to the net," Parks said. "I'm just clicking with my linemates and getting some chemistry going."
It's the best first 25 games the Mallards have had under head coach Terry Ruskowski since 2013, and their best since moving to the ECHL in 2014. The team is poised to move up the standings, with a win tonight over Fort Wayne putting the Mallards in third place in the tight Central Division.
Still, there's one steak that is concerning despite the wins — a streak of three shorthanded goals allowed in the team's last three games.
It's a weird trend. Teams will allow shorthanded goals throughout a season, but to allow three in three games takes a combination of poor decisions as well as some bad bounces.
"It's the mistakes at their blue line, not moving the puck or the puck bouncing the wrong way and not having enough speed to get the guy," Ruskowski said. "You've got to work hard on the power play, you can't just take it easy ... as long as we correct those mistakes, we're OK."
It's something the Mallards need to fix sooner rather than later. Through the first 25 games the team has allowed five shorthanded goals this season, tied for 19th in the league.
"You've just got to take care of the puck, no high-risk plays and go from there," captain Chris Francis said. "We shouldn't get scored on on the power play but every now and then it's going to happen and you have to bounce back and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Both Francis and Ruskowski pointed to the team's resiliency, able to rally from those miscues and grab the wins as a bigger positive than the shorthanded goals are a negative.
"Have we won? We've won every game so I think we're OK, we don't have to worry about it," Francis said. "It's not going to happen the whole year, everybody gets scored on on the power play every now and then. We've got to make sure we take care of the puck and go from there."
Gibson streaking: Mallards defenseman Kevin Gibson is enjoying the best stretch of his young career, currently on an eight-game point streak. Gibson has scored one goal and added nine assists over the last eight games, with his scoring streak the second-highest in the league this year, only behind reigning MVP Chad Costello of Allen.
Gibson nearly had his streak snapped Sunday against Kalamazoo, but assisted on Michael Parks' game-tying goal in the final three minutes of regulation for his seventh straight game with at least one assist, the longest stretch in the league.
In addition to his scoring, Gibson has been stout defensively. He leads the team with a plus-16 rating, which is tied for fifth in the league.
"He’s been playing well," Ruskowski said. "He just gets the puck and moves it up quick. I think he’d be even more effective if he just comes up on the play."
Gibson has one goal and 10 assists in 20 games this season for the Mallards and has two goals and 18 assists in 73 games in his career.
Todd off active roster: Nathan Todd was removed from the active roster and suspended by the Mallards last Thursday for a lack of ice time. He is the fourth player suspended by the team through the first 25 games. In 12 games he tallied four assists and had a minus-3 rating.
Perry playing well: Joe Perry had a turbulent season last year, which started by being traded in the preseason from the Mallards to the Alaska Aces for Olivier Archambault. He played 20 games with the Aces before being traded to the Fort Wayne Komets, where he played 24 games before requesting to be released in February, citing personal reasons.
Perry signed this offseason with the Orlando Solar Bears and has played well so far. He is tied for fourth with 15 goals and has added five assists for 20 points in 26 games, helping the Solar Bears to a 16-8-3 record and first place in the South Division.
Players of the week: Fort Wayne Komets forward Mike Cazzola was named the Sher-Wood Hockey player of the week after scoring five goals — including his first career hat trick — and adding four assists for nine points in three games last week.
Colorado Eagles goaltender Clarke Saunders was named the CCM goaltender of the week after going 3-0-0 with a two shutouts, a 1.33 goals against average and a .958 save percentage, helping the Eagles extend their winning streak to seven games.
Who's hot, who's not: The Colorado Eagles are on a seven-game winning streak and have a three-point lead on first place in the Mountain Division. The Eagles have outscored opponents 27-14 over this stretch.
The Utah Grizzlies have gone 2-8-0 over their last 10 games and are currently in last place in the Mountain Division with 20 points.
This week: The Mallards host the Fort Wayne Komets today at 6:35 p.m. The Mallards are 1-3-0 this season against the Komets. The game was rescheduled from March 3 due to scheduling conflicts with the arena.
The Mallards also host the Tulsa Oilers on Friday at 7 p.m., which is $2 Dogs/$2 Beer night presented by 97X. In addition, the first 1,500 fans through the doors will receive free holiday scratch cards with winners taking home prizes from the Mallards. The Mallards are 1-0-0 this season against the Oilers.
Friday's game can be heard on WFXN 1230 AM while Wednesday's game can be heard at myqcmallards.net.