It's a new season and a new team, but last season's playoff sweep at the hands of the Missouri Mavericks still stings as 2016 comes to a close.
"You always hope to get back at the team that knocked you out, especially losing four straight to them," defenseman Mike Monfredo said. "That always was in the back of our minds wanting to come out there and beat them."
The Mallards are working to move on from that defeat, beating Missouri 3-2 Friday night at the iWireless Center. Quad-City is now 2-0 this season against the Mavericks, a big mental boost for the players with eight more tilts remaining, including tonight in Independence.
"It's a new year, new season so it's nice to play them and get the feel, get the win," forward Brady Brassart said. "Every game is big and we've got to make sure we're finishing checks and setting the tone."
Brassart had a goal and an assist, while Alex Petan scored the game-winning goal on the power play to give the Mallards their third straight win. Petan's goal was set up by a no-look, through the legs, cross-creased feed from Sam Warning at the 3-minute, 39-second mark of the third period. Petan also scored the game-winner in the Oct. 26 win over Missouri.
"We didn't have the best luck passing to each other today, hitting the stick here and there, a skate," said Petan, who now has four game-winning goals this season. "That one actually hit his skate but I was able to find it and it felt good."
The night started off rough for the Mallards as Rocco Carzo buried a power-play goal just 37 second into the game. It’s the ninth time in the last 10 games the Mallards have surrendered the game’s first goal, but the Mallards have found ways to recover, with their seventh win in that stretch. Grant Arnold tied the game with the second goal of his career to send both teams to the first intermission tied at 1-1.
"It's taking us a bit to get in the game and we've got to focus on better starts," Brassart said. "Getting that first one is big and playing with a lead and building on a lead. It's nice to be able to come back from those deficits and our defensive play starts there."
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The Mallards' comeback ability has been in large part due to their goaltending, and after the shaky start, Adam Vay was solid in net, making 20 saves. Vay has now won four straight games and is looking more comfortable in net nearing the midpoint of his rookie season.
"The goalie is the most important part and after the first goal, we never broke up," Vay said. "I'm feeling more comfortable, we have good guys here and they help me the right way."
After Dane Fox gave Missouri a 2-1 lead, Brassart tied the game, taking a perfect pass from Kevin Gibson to get loose for a breakaway and beat goaltender Josh Robinson late in the second period.
Prior to the game, defenseman Jake Baker was assigned to the Mallards from the AHL's Manitoba Moose. Baker has played 10 games with the Moose this season, notching one assist. In 51 games with the Mallards last year, Baker scored two goals and added eight assists. Baker is expected to be in the lineup for tonight's game.