MOLINE, Ill. – Bruce Graham netted one goal and an assist and Jamie Schaafsma scored the game-winning goal in the third period, while Bryan Pitton made 33 saves to lead the visiting Allen Americans to a 4-2 win over the Quad City Mallards in front of 3,724 fans at iWireless Center on Wednesday night. Allen now holds a two-games to one, best-of-seven series lead over Quad City in the second round of the CHL Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup Playoffs.
The Americans survived a third period comeback bid by the Mallards, who saw Jordan Mayer score in a goal mouth scramble at 8:40 of the third period and Matt Boyd score on a similar scramble with 2:39 remaining in the third. Allen put the game away for good with 17-seconds left in the third, with an empty net goal from Shaafsma.
Mallards goaltender Ty Rimmer made 30 saves in the loss as Allen controlled most of the first period, notching 10 shots on goal before the Mallards had even one.
The Mallards dug their hole early in the game with two special teams miscues that led to Allen’s first two goals. The Mallards were on the penalty kill when Graham scored a power play goal at 15:38 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Jonathan Lassard followed with a short-handed, breakaway goal at 18:35 of the first period to increase Allen’s lead to two goals. That goal was especially difficult for the home town crowd, as Rimmer came out of the crease to challenge Lassard and for no apparent reason tripped over himself and fell, leaving the goal mouth wide open for an easy score.
The Mallards were fortunate to limit the damage to two first period goals. Referee Jake Brenk was maintaining control of some very physical play by calling Roughing minors very quickly and not only could the Mallards special teams not convert, they also could not contain a short-handed Allen offense. After the first period the two teams seemed to get Brenk’s message and continued to play a physical game, while being careful not to draw more minor penalties.
Friday night’s referee, Steve Cruikshank, was also in attendance as a spectator and no doubt he will also keep a close eye on the physical play that produced a number of roughing penalties by players on both sides.
The Mallards host game four Friday night at 7:05pm at the iWireless Center in Moline, IL.
Photos by Rich Guill / Sean Flynn Photography