By: Mallards Communications Staff
04/27/2017 9:57 AM
Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards
Phil Axtell, who served as the Quad City Mallards’ head coach for the second half of the 2016-17 season, will continue as the team’s coach on a full-time basis, the Mallards announced today.
Axtell has been tabbed as the Mallards' coach for the long term after leading the club to a 21-12-2 record in 35 regular season games and a berth in the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs. Axtell initially took over as interim head coach on January 20 and was named the Mallards’ coach for the remainder of the campaign on February 9.
“We’re pleased to announce that Phil will be continuing as our head coach. We’re very happy with the job he did after taking over under difficult circumstances this season,” said Mallards owner Jordan Melville. “He has more than earned the opportunity to continue after leading the team to 40 wins for the first time in more than a decade and reaching the playoffs. We’re looking forward to a very exciting future for the Mallards with Phil as our coach.”
Under Axtell’s direction the Mallards reached 40 victories for the first time since 2005-06 and totaled more points- 84- than they have since 2006-07. Axtell piloted the Mallards to an eight-game winning streak between January 28 and February 15, the Mallards’ longest such streak since 2004. The Mallards scored an average of 3.5 goals per game under Axtell’s direction, up from an average of 2.9 per contest prior to his elevation.
The Mallards finished the regular season in third place in the ECHL’s Central Division before being eliminated in the division semifinals in five hard-fought games by the Fort Wayne Komets last week.
“Phil is an excellent young coach who did great work this season. His team was not only successful but also exciting to watch,” said Mallards president and general manager Bob McNamara. “With a full offseason to prepare we’re confident next season will be another strong year for Phil and the team.”
Axtell took the head coaching reins after two and a half seasons as a Mallards assistant. Axtell coached in the junior ranks before joining the Mallards’ staff. He served as associate head coach and assistant general manager of the Wisconsin Whalers in 2013-14. Axtell broke into coaching as an assistant with the Quad City Jr. Flames in 2012-13.
Axtell played for the Mallards during the 2010-11 season. Before arriving in the Quad Cities, Axtell skated collegiately for Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. His on-ice achievements also include helping the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to the 2005 United States Hockey League title and playing in the 2006 USHL All-Star Game during his two-year stint in the junior ranks. Axtell graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2015.
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