By: Mallards Communications Staff
Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards

Mike Cazzola scored a hat trick as the Fort Wayne Komets (44-19-8) defeated the host Quad City Mallards (40-27-4) 5-2 Friday night.

The Komets secured victory on the back of four third period goals. Fort Wayne's Mason Baptista broke a 1-1 deadlock from the slot at 8:14 of the third. Just one minute and 44 seconds later Travis Ewanyk stretched the Komet lead to 3-1 from the top of the right wing circle. The Mallards would wait only a further 33 seconds before pulling back within one when Sam Warming charged into the goalmouth off the right wing to score. Cazzola stifled Mallard comeback hopes by scoring the final two goals of the game. He put Fort Wayne up 4-2 by firing a loose puck home from to slot at 14:22 and his empty net goal capped off the Komet win with just six seconds remaining.

It was Cazzola who had opened the scoring by burying Mike Embach's centering pass at 4:46 of the first period. Jack Nevins' power play goal tied the game at one at 17:16 of the second period. Nevins pounced on the rebound after Fort Wayne goaltender Garrett Bartus stopped Chris Francis' solo rush.

The Mallards and Komets close out the regular season with a rematch tomorrow night in Fort Wayne. The Mallards will open their best-of-seven first round ECHL Kelly Cup playoff series against the Komets on the road on Friday, April 14 and will play game two at Allen Country War Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, April 15 before returning home for game three on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:35 p.m. and game four on Friday, April 21 at 7:05 p.m. If a fifth game is necessary, it will be played on Saturday night, April 22 at 7:05 p.m. at the iWireless Center. Should a sixth game be required, the series will shift back to Fort Wayne on Monday, April 24. If the series goes to a seventh game, the Komets would host the deciding contest on Wednesday, April 26.

Tickets to Mallards home playoff games are now on sale at the iWireless Center box office, Ticketmaster outlets, and Ticketmaster charge-by-phone toll free at 1-800-745-3000. The box office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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