FORT WAYNE – The Komets and Quad City Mallards have played each other 115 times dating back to 1999, including Fort Wayne’s 2003 victory in the UHL’s Colonial Cup Finals.
But Wednesday may have concluded the rivalry – which took a hiatus from 2007 to 2009 when Quad City was in the American Hockey League – only this time for good.
Before the Mallards defeated the Komets 5-2 in front of 5,722 fans at Memorial Coliseum, the Mallards announced they had signed a licensing agreement with the CHL that would keep them in the league for 10 years. The Komets and Evansville are being courted by the ECHL, and most people believe they will end up there because there are more teams in proximity.
Meanwhile, the Komets (37-19-7) are still atop the Turner Conference, one point ahead of Evansville and Rapid City. The fifth-place Mallards (36-26-2) remained in the playoff hunt by recovering from an early deficit, thanks to a Colin Chaulk goal, and scoring all their goals off turnovers.
Yeah, I think concern would be an understatement, said Fort Wayne coach Al Sims, whose team is on a 1-2-4 slide, which includes six games at the Coliseum.
Center Mickey Lang tied it at 1 on a breakaway at 14:26 of the first period. Right wing Jared Brown netted a shot from 35 feet out at 17:34. And 21 seconds after that, a Lang pass ricocheted off the skate of center Eric Giosa and went in for a 3-1 lead.
Left wing Obo Aduba cemented the victory with a short-handed goal at 18:47 of the second period, despite having three defenders never pressure him with the puck.
It was pingpong in the first period. I didn’t think it was that bad, Chaulk said. But for our club, the second period was unacceptable.
Fort Wayne’s Stephon Thorne scored off a rebound in the third period, but Quad City’s John Snowden had an empty-netter.
Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher stopped 30 of 34 shots. Quad City’s David Brown stopped 35 of 37.
We’ve just got to get back to simple hockey. We were trying to make plays tonight and got ourselves in a hole. We were trying to make too many lateral passes at the (blue) line and we were just getting ourselves in trouble, Chaulk said.
We’ve just got to stick together, play the same way all the time and take care of the puck. We really didn’t manage it well tonight, and I was probably one of the worst.
The Komets are 58-33-11 all time against the Mallards in the regular season, including 7-2-0 this season. In the playoffs, the Komets have won 5 of 13 games against the Mallards.
This is great for (the Mallards), but there’s really nothing new at our end, though we’re getting close (to knowing), Komets president Michael Franke said of Quad City’s deal. What it really gets down to for us is what happens with Dayton. We play them 12 to 14 times, and we need them on our schedule (if we stay in the CHL).
There has been speculation the Gems could fold, move to St. Charles, Mo., or switch to juniors.
Note: Playoff tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Ticketmaster locations and the Coliseum box office.