The Quad-City Mallards have relied on their offense to carry them throughout the early part of the Central Hockey League season. Saturday night, they weren't quite up to the task.
The Mallards lost to the Brampton Beast 4-3 at the iWireless Center in a game that appeared to be a defensive battle early before a flurry of goals in the third period.
"They (Brampton) play a tight defensive game. They nullified our power," coach Terry Ruskowski said. "But we didn't win one one-on-one battle in the corners. We didn't hit anybody, we were stick-checking ... we forced passes when it wasn't there."
The Mallards fell behind in the first period when Michael MacIsaac's power-play goal gave the Beast the early lead at the 10-minute, 38-second mark. It was the first time all season the Mallards were unable to take the early lead.
Quad-City was able to tie it early in the second period when Thomas Frazee's shot from the point hit the boards behind the net, and forward Jeff Lee was able to bury the ricochet at 6:14.
For the rest of the period, the Mallards' defense shut down the Beast, including two power plays. Mallards goaltender Ty Rimmer played extremely well during the penalty kills, stopping numerous shots to keep the Mallards in it, and the two teams headed into the second intermission tied 1-1.
"I thought the second period (Rimmer) played tremendous," Ruskowski said. "I can't blame him for it (the loss). But I thought the second period he played tremendous, he played really well."
Both offenses came alive in the third period, trading goals back and forth, including one by newly acquired defenseman Corbin Baldwin, who was assigned to the Mallards on Saturday from the team's AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
"It was nice to get the first goal obviously," Baldwin said. "I haven't played a whole lot this year, so getting some more ice time is really nice. Of course, it's always nice if we could have came out on the better end of things."
Beast forward Andrew Fournier was able to score the first and the last goals of the period, however, including the game-winner at 12:58, and the Mallards' offense couldn't find the equalizer late, something they've seemed to rely on through the first two weeks of the season.
"I think if this is a lesson that we have to learn now, then it's a good lesson, it's a good loss," Ruskowski said. "We know we can't do that (rely on offensive explosiveness) anymore, you can't think that anymore."