Subscribe for 17¢ / day

After enduring the bleakness of winter, the sun has finally started to shine on the Quad-City Mallards.

The Mallards have emerged from a dark, 13-game losing streak that included multiple staff shakeups looking like a different team in recent weeks.

They're 6-4-1 since the losing streak, have won three games in a row and are playing much better all around.

In the last 11 games, the Mallards are averaging 3.82 goals per game, up from 2.22. The power play has converted on 28.9 percent of its chances, up from 13.9. The penalty kill has been on lockdown, particularly in the last three games, killing off all but one of the last 15 attempts it has faced.

C.J. Motte and Ivan Kulbakov have also helped, giving the Mallards a reliable goaltending duo.

It's all added up to the Mallards finding themselves on the winning end.

"The guys have played with a little more grit and determination to play the right way," head coach Phil Axtell said. "I tell guys, work hard, do your best and the worst won't happen."

Playoffs are realistically nothing more than a pipe dream for the Mallards — currently 18 points back of fourth-place Kalamazoo and Cincinnati — but that doesn't mean they have nothing left to play for.

With 16 of their final 29 games against teams currently in a playoff spot, they can have plenty of say on how the postseason shakes out.

If nothing else, this recent stretch has helped immensely with morale and it started by the team looking inward.

"I think it's just the overall attitude of the guys," forward Tristan King said. "When we're losing, it's easy to start pointing the finger but I think collectively we came together and said enough is enough.

"Whether we're in playoffs, out of playoffs, it doesn't matter. We're playing for pride and playing for the Quad-Cities and the Mallard logo on our chest, that's all that matters to us. I think that's really brought a spark to our game and we're just going to keep rolling on it."

The Mallards try to keep this winning streak rolling tonight against the Tulsa Oilers, in a resumption of a game from Nov. 17. The game was suspended with 12 minutes, 8 seconds left in the second period with the Oilers leading 2-1. The game will start at that point, starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

It's a unique situation for the team, trying to overcome a deficit in just over 32 minutes, but as they showed in Saturday's win over Wichita, sometimes all they need is 43 seconds to make an impact.

"Yeah, we're down a goal but we have more than half a game left and we've scored multiple goals in a couple minutes so I think we have enough time," defenseman Alexander Kuqali said. "We're starting to do the right things now and I think that will carry over."

Pink in the rink: With the Mallards partnering with Genesis Health System for Pink in the Rink, fans can stop by the TaxSlayer Center Wednesday between noon and 9 p.m. to paint the name of a loved one affected by cancer on the ice in pink. Those names will remain on the ice for the team's games Friday and Saturday.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times