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ECHL notes: Catch Ivan Kulbakov before he's playing elsewhere

ECHL notes: Catch Ivan Kulbakov before he's playing elsewhere


Quad-City Mallards' goalie Ivan Kulbakov skates into the spotlights during pregame introductions prior to an Oct. 13 game against Toledo.

Ivan Kulbakov's performance this weekend was truly something else.

The 21-year-old rookie made 103 total saves to lead the Quad-City Mallards to a pair of 3-2 wins over the Idaho Steelheads.

He made 57 saves in Friday night's win, the most since the team returned to the ice in 2009, passing Kyle Jones' mark of 52 in 2010. Kulbakov didn't take any time off the next day, following that up with a 46-save performance Saturday night.

It earned quite a bit of admiration from his teammates.

"To play like that two nights in a row shows you're a very elite player, not only is your body ready but your mental focus is way up there," defenseman Kyle Bigos said. "To see him come out two nights in a row is amazing."

Kulbakov's weekend was the highlight of several strong performances turned in by Mallards goalies from both the present and the past.

First, C.J. Motte made his first start with the AHL's Chicago Wolves and earned his first win of the season by making 27 saves in a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday.

In his AHL career, Motte has now played in seven AHL games, going 3-2-1 with a 1.89 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.

Adam Vay, who was with the Mallards last year, became just the fifth Hungarian player to play in an AHL game when he played in the Iowa Wild's 5-4 overtime loss to the Tucson Roadrunners.

Parker Milner, who played with the Mallards in 2014-15, earned his first win of the season with the AHL's Hershey Bears on Saturday, making 18 saves in a 3-2 win over the Providence Bruins.

Back down in the ECHL, former Mallards Steve Michalek and Ty Rimmer both earned wins for their respective teams.

Michalek, down with the Rapid City Rush from the Wild, made 19 saves Saturday in Rapid City's 4-3 win over Colorado, the first win of the season for the Rush.

Rimmer, who played with the Mallards in their last year in the Central Hockey League in 2013, posted 50 saves to help the Greenville Swamp Rabbits to a 4-1 win over Manchester.

Why bring up what all these former goaltenders are doing? It's as simple as this: Kulbakov's weekend was better than what any of those goaltenders did while they were with the Mallards and only a combined 4,954 fans were reported as being at the TaxSlayer Center to witness it.

On the season, the Mallard have drawn an average of 2,850 fans over their first five games, fifth worst in the league.

The Quad-City Mallards have had a bevy of quality goaltending over the last few seasons and their stays in the Quad-Cities are all too fleeting. Whether they end up in the AHL, overseas, or back with another team in the ECHL, the old mainstays of years past — the Sergei Zvyagins and Jason Tapp, who combined to play 248 games with the Mallards — aren't the norm anymore.

If he keeps playing like this, it's not hard to imagine Kulbakov soon being recalled by the Cleveland Monsters, who have his AHL rights.

If Kulbakov continues to play at the level he did this past weekend, it would be a good idea to come out to the TaxSlayer Center and catch as many starts from the rookie goaltender as possible before he's gone for good.

This week: The Mallards host the Indy Fuel Friday night at 7 p.m., the first of 11 meetings between the two teams this season. The Mallards went 7-3-0 against the Fuel last year.

Saturday, the Mallards travel to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to face the Fort Wayne Komets at 6:30 p.m. It's the first of nine meetings this year between the two teams after the Komets beat the Mallards four games to one in the opening round of the playoffs last year. In the regular season the Mallards were 4-8-0 against the Komets.


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