ALLEN, Texas. – The Allen Americans and Quad City Mallards kicked off their conference final series Friday night at the Allen Event Center. The defending President’s Cup Champion Americans defeated the Brampton Beast 4-1 in their opening round, giving the club a few extra days to rest and heal up while the Quad City Mallards had to go all the way to game seven against the Rapid City Rush.
The Quad City Mallards netted the lone goal in a very slow paced, otherwise uneventful first period of play Friday night. Justin Fox slid the puck past Bryan Pitton at 11:02 of the first period, on an unassisted extra effort play off a turnover at the Americans blue line. Both teams were deadlocked at a paltry 8 shots on goal at the first intermission, while the Mallards held the 1-0 lead.
In the middle frame, the Mallards extended their lead early on a goal by Gergo Nagy at 4:03. The pass came across the crease and went off Nagy’s skate, which led to the Americans arguing for a washout on a kicking call but the goal stood. Vladimir Nikiforov and Matt Boyd were credited with the assists on the Nagy marker.
That second Quad City goal seemed to spark some life in the Americans, more than give the Mallards a swell in momentum you would expect, and three minutes later the Americans would finally get on the board. Bruce Graham slid the puck under a diving Thomas Heemskerk at 7:28 for his third goal of the post-season, with Anthony Maiani and Jamie Schaafsma earning the helpers.
Shortly after, the Americans’ continued hard work paid off when Michael Monfredo was given the gate for a holding call, handing Allen their second man advantage and their first power play goal on the evening. At 9:46, Maiani netted his third goal of the playoffs, off passes by Tyler Ludwig and Jonathon Zion, to bring the game level at 2-2.
Quad City re-took the lead a few minutes later, right off the faceoff when Thomas Frazee was left unattended in front of the net and fired a shot past a sprawling Bryan Pitton in the Americans’ crease. Jeff Lee was credited with the lone assist on the Frazee goal at 13:24 of the middle frame. The Mallards held the lead through the balance of the period and out-shot Allen 11-10 to take the two period shot total 19-18 and hold the lead on the scoreboard 3-2.
The Mallards built on that late second period momentum in the early goings of the third period to extend their lead to 4-2 when Jordan Mayer was able to re-direct a shot from the point by Darren McMillan, as Frazee earned the secondary assist at the 4:19 mark.
The Americans had their best offensive effort in the third period, out-shooting Quad City 16-7, but it was a little too late, as the damage was done. Allen will need to get back to their system beginning on Sunday and not allow Quad City to slow the game down as they did the last two times these teams met including Friday night. Through three periods of play Allen out-shot the Mallards 34-26, but fell by the score of 4-2 to give Quad City the 1-0 series lead.
The Americans and Mallards continue their series on Easter Sunday when they face off in game two at the Allen Event Center with the puck drop set for 5:05pm.
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Photos courtesy of Kimberly Sauer / scenebykimberly.com