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The Quad-City Mallards knocked it out of the park last weekend.

Their Pink in the Rink event made a big impression. It brought people in from all over the area, at least as far south as Burlington, looking to paint names of those affected by cancer on the ice.

By the weekend's games, the ice was covered in pink writing, leaving an impact long after the games were done.

"It was an unbelievable event that brought the community together. It was a great cause to fight cancer and to discover a cure," head coach Phil Axtell said. "I've never been part of a collective event, a region-wide event where that many people came out."

During both games, the Mallards ran photos of people holding signs signifying who they fight for and later, ran photos of the players holding the same signs, with a message from Mallards owner Jordan Melville.

"Cancer is something that affected my family pretty recently," defenseman Willie Raskob said. "So it was something that brought back a lot of feelings and emotions that aren't always easy but it's definitely a way for you to remember them and I think it meant a lot for a lot of people and by looking at the messages you could tell there were a lot of people with some heavy hearts.

The jersey auction raised $16,925 for the Genesis Health Services Foundation mammogram coupon program. Matt Pohlkamp's jersey drew the night's high bid of $1,100.

This year, the Mallards raised $33,176 for Genesis Health Services and have raised over $800,000 over 20 years of jersey auctions. This one hit home.

"It's something important, something that affects everyone so I think it's good to try and raise awareness whenever you can," Raskob said. "I think it was a good way for a lot of people to share their feelings and remember them and recognize them in a way I felt was pretty unique so it was pretty cool."

ESPN personalities John Buccigross and Steve Levy both took note of the Mallards' work.

Buccigross tweeted in response to the Mallards' post about the event, "Sad and beautiful and lovely. Another example of humanity at work. Faith, hope, love."

Levy tweeted out, "I've been in that barn ... and it's never looked better than it does this weekend. Well done, all around."

Even though the team lost both games, the response from the community was so overwhelming that this is an event the Mallards hope to repeat next year, and many more years to come.

"That wasn't hockey, that was life," Axtell said. "Everyone deals with it, it's really hard to talk about in everyday life. This gave everyone the ability to share their story."

Motte stops 60: Ivan Kulbakov posted one of the more remarkable goaltending performances in the league this season, making 57 saves back in October.

C.J. Motte topped it Sunday.

Motte made 60 saves to lead the Mallards to a shootout win over the Fort Wayne Komets.

"I definitely wasn't bored," Motte said. "But a lot of the shots, the 'D' kept them to the outside so I didn't have a ton of odd-man rushes, which was nice. 

Motte made 28 saves in the second period, tied for sixth in league history and the most since March 22, 2008.

"I just took it shot by shot and didn't really realize it," he said. "But I was definitely tired on the bus ride back."

Motte's night came after a hectic trip. The Mallards' bus suffered a flat tire on the way to Indiana and after sitting on the road for three hours, the team didn't arrive in Fort Wayne until 11:15 a.m.

Motte took the ice less than five hours later.

"It's just life on the road. Going through it through junior hockey and college and now pro, stuff happens on the road," Motte said. "You can't control it, you just have to be ready to go for the game no matter what happens. I kind of took a deep breath, said, 'You're on the road, just go out and play your game.'"

To add to the night, Motte also stopped all three attempts in the shootout, something that's been very commonplace since he joined the Mallards. He has now won all four shootouts he's been in and has stopped all 15 shots he's faced in the last two years.

With Elmira in 2015-16, he was 4-1 in shootouts, allowing four goals in 15 attempts.

"I'm just watching the puck, I do it in practice, just trying to get better," Motte said. "There's no real key out there, just try to watch the puck and try to stop it."

ECHL commish stepping down: ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna announced last week he will be leaving the league this summer after serving 16 years as the league's commissioner.

“It has been a rewarding experience," McKenna said. "The timing is right to pass the torch to someone who will lead the league to the next level. My top priority over the next six months will be to assist in that transition.”

A national search is underway to find a replacement.

Warning update: Sam Warning, who leads the Mallards with 16 goals this season, has played three games in the AHL this season with the San Jose Barracuda. He has yet to record a point and is minus-3, with three shots.

This week: The Mallards travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan tonight to take on the Wings at 6 p.m.

Friday, the Mallards return to the TaxSlayer Center to host the Wings at 7 p.m. The Mallards have partnered with Doland Jewelers to host a third annual wedding on ice during the first intermission. The Mallards are 2-3-0 against the Wings this season. The game can be watched live on Facebook.

Saturday, the Mallards travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana to play the Komets at 6:35 p.m. The Mallards are 1-5-1 against the Komets this year.

Sunday, the Mallards wrap up their week at home against the Toledo Walleye at 4 p.m. The Mallards will hold a postgame skate. The Mallards are 0-2-0 against the Walleye this season.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times