Photo: Sean Flynn Photography/Quad City Mallards
Friday, October 13, 7:05 p.m.
TaxSlayer Center, Moline
Toledo Walleye vs. Quad City Mallards
Saturday, October 14, 7:05 p.m.
TaxSlayer Center, Moline
Tulsa Oilers vs. Quad City Mallards
2016-17: 40-28-4, 84 points
2016-17: 3rd place, Central Division
Coach: Phil Axtell
2016-17: 51-17-4, 106 points
2016-17: 1st place, Central Division
Coach: Dan Watson
2016-17: 27-37-8, 62 points
2016-17: 5th place, Central Division
Coach: Rob Murray
The Mallards start their twenty-first season and their fourth in the ECHL with two home games in as many nights. The Mallards host the Toledo Walleye Friday night and the Tulsa Oilers Saturday evening.
Behind the Bench
This is Phil Axtell’s first full season as Mallards head coach. The Mallards last season went 21-12-2 in 35 regular season games after Axtell took the reins on January 20. Veteran forward Jamie Tardif has joined the Mallards this season as a player/assistant coach.
The Mallards last season won 40 games for the first time since they went 41-27-8 in the United Hockey League in 2005-06. The Mallards last season totaled 84 points, the most since they had 85 in the UHL in 2006-07. They finished 12 games over .500, the most since they finished 14 games over break-even in 2005-06.
The Mallards have qualified for the playoffs in each of their first three ECHL seasons and in each of their last five campaigns overall. The Mallards have enjoyed seven consecutive winning seasons. They last finished with a losing record when they went 29-35-4 in 2009-10- their lone International Hockey League campaign.
This season is the Mallards’ first as the ECHL affiliate of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League and the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Five players- Kris Joyce, Justin Kovacs, Josh MacDonald, C.J. Motte and Sam Warning- arrived at Mallards training camp after first skating in the Wolves’ camp on tryout agreements.
Seven Mallards currently on the club’s roster- Kovacs, MacDonald, Motte, Warning, Alexander Kuqali, Chris Leibinger and Kyle Novak- finished last season with the team. A total of nine players on the training camp roster were with the Mallards at some point last year. Kyle Follmer has returned to the Quad Cities after playing for the Mallards in last season’s opener and then moving on to the Fort Wayne Komets. Goaltender Kent Patterson first joined the Mallards for a six-day stint last November but did not see any game action. Three of last season’s top five Mallard point scorers- Kovacs (60), Warning (54) and MacDonald (52)- are on the current roster. All-star Motte is the first Mallard goaltender to return for a second season with the club since David Brown, who played between the pipes for the Mallards in the Central Hockey League in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Warning is the longest serving Mallard. He returns for his third season in the Quad Cities.
Between the Pipes
Motte finished last season tied for sixth in the ECHL in save percentage (.917) and tied for eighth in goals against average (2.68) while going 20-11-2 in 36 games. Joyce’s professional career got off to a whirlwind start last spring when he made his debut in relief in game six of the Orlando Solar Bears’ opening round Kelly Cup playoff series against the Florida Everblades and played again in relief in game seven after signing an amateur tryout agreement with Orlando. Joyce turned professional immediately after completing a single season at the University of Windsor. Last year Patterson went 6-6-2 in 18 games while posting a 4.24 goals against average, a .879 save percentage and one shutout while dividing what was his fifth season among the Rapid City Rush, Atlanta Gladiators and Wichita Thunder.
The Mallards last year were defeated 6-2 by Fort Wayne on home ice on opening night. All-time, the Mallards have gone 10-9-1 in openers.
The Mallards have suffered regulation defeats in each of their eight home openers since the team returned to the ice in 2009 following a two-year interregnum during which the Quad City Flames competed in the AHL. The Mallards are winless (0-8-1) in their last nine home openers. The Mallards last started their home slate with a win on October 21, 2021 while in the UHL when they downed the Motor City Mechanics 4-3 in a shootout.
Home Sweet Home
The Mallards will play each of their first three games and six of their first seven on home ice. A rematch with the Walleye next Wednesday will close out the three-game season-opening homestand.
The Mallards last season won 20 games at home (20-12-4) and on the road (20-16-0).
Red Light District
The Mallards last season finished eleventh in the ECHL in goals against (220, 3.1 per game) and sixteenth in goals scored (232, 3.2 per game). The Mallards scored an average of 3.5 goals per game in 35 games under Axtell, up from an average of 2.9 per contest prior to his elevation.
The Mallards finished last season eighth in the ECHL in penalty killing (83.5 percent) and twenty-sixth on the power play (12.4 percent).
Head to Head
The opener is the first of seven games between the Mallards and Walleye this season. The Mallard and Walleye split a pair of meeting last season with the home team taking each contest. The Mallards dropped the Walleye 4-2 on November 11 before being blanked 3-0 on December 3 in Toledo. The Mallards have gone 1-1-1 all-time against Toledo. The Walleye won the first ever meeting between the two clubs 3-2 in a shootout on January 31, 2022 in Toledo…The Mallards and Oilers will clash six times. The Mallards went 2-1-0 against Tulsa last season while playing all three of those games at home. All-time, the Mallards have gone 17-14-0 against the Oilers overall and 12-7-0 at home.
The Cincinnati Cyclones and Kansas City Mavericks have joined the Mallards in the Central Division this season. To make room for the newcomers, the Oilers and Wichita Thunder have been transplanted from the Central to the Mountain Division. The Walleye, Komets, Indy Fuel and Kalamazoo Wings remain in the Central.
Ins and Outs
The Mallards yesterday released forwards Connor Gorman, Ivan Hodulov and Trever Hertz and defenseman Mark Esshaki from tryout agreements…Forward Chris Francis has not taken part in training camp (upper body injury).
UPCOMING HOME GAMES
Friday, October 13, 7:05 p.m.- Mallards vs. Toledo Walleye
Mallards Magnet Schedule Giveaway
The first 5,000 fans through the TaxSlayer Center’s doors for the season opener will receive free Mallards magnet schedules.
$2 Dogs/$2 Beers presented by 97X
Fans can enjoy $2 hot dogs and beers from TaxSlayer Center concession stands during every Friday home game.
MetroLINK College Night
The Mallards have partnered with Metro to provide transit service between Augustana College and downtown Moline during all Friday home games. As part of Metro's unlimited ride program, Augustana riders can use their Augustana ID as their fare.
Saturday, October 14, 7:05 p.m.- Mallards vs. Tulsa Oilers
The Mallards will cap off the opening weekend of the season with a fireworks show outside the TaxSlayer Center following Saturday night’s game.
ON THE AIR
Fox Sports Radio 1230 is the radio home of Mallards Hockey Presented by Genesis Orthopedic Hospital. Mallards games broadcast on AM 1230 also stream live online at www.wfxn.net. A limited number of Mallards games- including Friday night’s game against Toledo- will not air on Fox Sports Radio 1230 due to conflicts with University of Illinois basketball and football and Green Bay Packer football. ECHL-TV pay-per-view video webcasts and free audio webcasts of all Mallards games are also available at myqcmallards.net.
The Mallards’ official mobile app is now available free for both Apple and Android. The app features a wide array of exclusive content, including behind the scenes video, breaking news and scoring alerts, interviews and video messages from Mallards players, instant access to live scores, stats and standings and special offers from the team and from Mallards partners.
Single Game Tickets
Single game tickets for all Mallards regular season contests are now available. Fans can contact the Mallards at (309) 277-1364 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about tickets. Single game tickets are also available at the TaxSlayer Center box office, at Ticketmaster outlets, through www.ticketmaster.com or through Ticketmaster charge-by-phone toll free. The box office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on game days from 10:00 a.m. until the start of the second period.
Mallards 2017-18 season tickets are still available. Season ticket holders enjoy significant savings off the walk-up ticket price and receive a host of exclusive benefits. For more season ticket information, fans can contact the Mallards at 309-277-1364 or email@example.com.
Groups of ten or more receive savings off the walk-up price and a host of group benefits. Mallards group tickets are a great fit for youth organizations, friends, co-workers, family groups, religious groups, school functions and business events. For more group ticket information, fans can contact the Mallards at (309) 277-1364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.