When the Quad-City Mallards and Tulsa Oilers started their game back in November, Triston Grant and Gergo Nagy weren't even in the country.
Eighty-one days later, the duo helped the Mallards grab one of the most unique victories in franchise history.
Nagy and Grant each scored, while Nagy added a shootout goal to help the Mallards beat the Oilers 4-3 in a shootout, resuming a game that was suspended on Nov. 17 after Tulsa head coach Rob Murray suffered a medical emergency on the bench.
The Mallards started Tuesday night down 2-1 and fell behind 3-1 before Nagy and Grant scored, Grant's goal coming off a face-off to tie the game at the 8-minute, 23-second mark of the third period.
"That was definitely something else," said Grant, who joined the team in December after spending the first two months working in Manitoba. "I've been in some odd situations but it's one of those things, those kinds of stories you take when at the end of the day you're done playing hockey. It's going to be something I can look back and kind of laugh about it."
It certainly was a unique night. Starting lineups weren't introduced but the national anthem was still performed and the Mallards started off in their own zone as the Oilers held possession when Murray went down on the bench in November. There were also no penalties in the game, just the ninth time in ECHL history that's happened.
Seven Mallards who started the game in November are no longer on the roster and the team is playing its best hockey of the year.
"There have been a lot of ups and downs (in the last two months), a lot of adversity and a lot of positive things here of late," head coach Phil Axtell said. "A lot has changed."
The win pulls the Mallards out of the bottom of the league, now two points ahead of Rapid City. The victory also extends the Mallards' winning streak to four games and the team is now 7-4-1 after suffering a 13-game losing streak, but this win was different than any other.
"Especially when you're down a goal to start the game, that's just how it's going right now," Grant said. "Guys are in a groove, we haven't had a lot of practice times so it's just been the games and the rest and guys are doing all the things we need to do to be successful."
The Oilers entered the night leading 2-1 thanks to a first period goal from Joey Sides and a second period goal from Dmitrii Sergeev that was answered 16 seconds later by Quad-City’s Brayden Low back in November.
Eight minutes later, the game was halted due to Murray’s medical emergency.
Kale Kessy gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead Tuesday at 16:20 in the second period before Nagy, who started the season in Hungary, scored at 19:45 to send the Mallards into the second intermission down 3-2.
In the shootout, Tristan King and Nagy both scored while Ivan Kulbakov stopped both attempts, part of a 43-save game that sandwiched a call-up to the AHL's Cleveland Monsters. He made 27 saves Tuesday night.
"He battled, he made some huge saves for us," Axtell said. "He played well."
This week: The Mallards wrap up their six-game homestand this weekend with a game against the Indy Fuel Friday and the Fort Wayne Komets Saturday. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Both games are part of the Mallards' Pink in the Rink weekend, with the team wearing special edition pink jerseys presented by Genesis Health System. The jerseys will be auctioned off following Saturday's game, with proceeds going to the Genesis Health Services Foundation.
The Mallards are 4-3-0 this season against Indy and 0-4-1 against Fort Wayne.