Sam Warning's shot on goal hits the post during a game against the Mavericks earlier this season. The Mallards are averaging just 1.75 goals during their ongoing 1-3 stretch.

The focus of the night was more on the Chicago Cubs than the Quad-City Mallards, but the team found a way to get the 2-1 win over a Missouri team that has always given the team trouble.

It was definitely a tough situation for the Mallards. There were less than 2,000 fans in the buildings, and much of the focus was on the World Series game on the video board.

I never thought I'd hear a cheer for a meaningless play in the neutral zone, but that's what happened when Ben Zobrist tripled in Anthony Rizzo in the game.

The players may not have liked it, but the Mallards did the right thing by having the game on. They know fans are more likely to watch the game than come to the hockey game, and if they can even get a few extra fans to come to the game, it's a win.

As for the game, here are some things that stood out.

Defensive improvement

This is a much improved defensive team than the one we saw opening night. It's not completely fixed, but much better. Vay didn't see a lot of work early, simply because not much was getting to him. The Mallards blocked a lot of shots, and when Missouri did start getting some chances, they were easily spotted by Vay and turned away.

This isn't surprising, as the Mallards have generally been a good defensive team under Terry Ruskowski, and with a couple of weeks to get used to each other and the systems. I expected them to start playing better, and they have so far.

Now, Missouri is trying to get acclimated to new players, much like the Mallards, and I expect them to continue to improve as the season goes on, but this is a good start for the Mallards, who hadn't beat them Mavericks in over a year.

Young line

Sam Warning is going to have a big year. He is just as fast as last year, and has added enough size to not get easily knocked off the puck. His vision is great, and his puck handling is improving. He will be a big offensive piece for the Mallards this year.

Alex Petan is equally talented. His vision is incredible and he made some great passes tonight. He got the Mallards the win, not just with a perfectly placed shot, but with his tenacious play to cause the turnover in the neutral zone after the Mallards just missed a chance when Warning couldn't hit Kevin Gibson on a 2-on-1.

Add in Justin Kovacs, and the Mallards might have found themselves a power line, which is something they've never really had under Ruskowski.

Special teams

The Mallards power play looks good so far this season, even though it went 1-for-6 tonight. The power play looks more creative and put together some good chances, even though it only scored once.

The penalty kill, however has been great, having killed off its last 13 opportunities. Vay didn't get tested much except on one penalty kill, and he turned away some good looks on that kill. My biggest knock on Vay so far is he gives up a lot of big rebounds, but one of the old sayings is a penalty kill is only as good as the goalie.

Vay -- and C.J. Motte -- have looked up to the task so far, and that's been key to the team's success so far.

I'm interested to see how the Mallards fare against Tulsa. The Oilers have a much better offense at this point than Missouri, but do allow some goals. The crowd will likely be bigger, but the Cubs will be on once again. The Mallards can't let themselves get distracted or go through a lull like they did tonight, because I think Tulsa has the firepower to put up some more chances.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times