Jeremy Boyer brook loose for a hat trick and an assist, Brandon Marino scored his league-leading forty-first goal to reach 90 points and David McKee made 37 saves as the host Quad City Mallards ended their season with a 5-2 win over the Bloomington Blaze Saturday night in front of 5,989 fans- the largest crowd to watch the Mallards at the i wireless Center since March 20, 2010.
“[The Mallards] have gotten to the point where they know they’ve got to step on it all the time and go-go-go and they’ve been successful.” said Mallards coach and general manager David Bell. “They did that tonight just off of instinct and repetition.”
The Mallards scored three unanswered third period goals to pull away from the Blaze and finish the campaign with a flourish. Boyer scored his second of the night off a give-and-go with Justin Chwedoruk to break a 2-2 tie at 4:28 of the third. At 12:22, the Mallards were up 5-on-3 when Marino tightened his grip on the league lead in goals by scoring from a sharp angle. A Boyer empty net goal capped off the win and completed the rookie’s hat trick with just 36.9 seconds remaining.
The Mallards found themselves in need of some third period fireworks after a wild 41-second stretch late in the second period saw a 2-0 Mallard lead disappear almost as soon as it went up on the scoreboard. Mickey Lang scored on a breakaway to double what had been a 1-0 Quad City advantage at 17:35 of the second, but just eight seconds later, Jason Dale scored Bloomington’s first goal from the right wing circle. 33 seconds after Dale struck, Travis Granbois’s fine solo rush tied the game at two.
Appropriately, it was Boyer who had opened the scoring took at 8:29 of the first period by jamming in the rebound after his breakaway bid was stopped by Bloomington goaltender Zane Kalemba (41 saves). McKee made 18 saves in the first period alone to insure the Mallards took the lead into the first intermission.
The considerable throng on hand at the i wireless Center that then endured a roller coaster second period before the Mallards slammed the door on Bloomington in the third enabled the Mallards to finish the season having enjoyed a 17 percent increase in attendance over the 2010-11 campaign.
The Mallards went 37-27-2 (76 points) this season and finished fifth in the Central Hockey League’s Turner Conference. In what was their first season under Bell, the Mallards won more games, collected more points and scored more goals (230) than any Mallard team since 2006-07.
Marino (41-49-90) finishes his season leading the league in goals and ranked second in point scoring; Marino must wait until the final five games of the CHL season are played tomorrow to be sure of claiming the league goal-scoring crown. The CHL Most Valuable Player finalist and All-CHL selection is the first Mallard to top 40 goals since Luke Stauffacher (42) in 2006-07 and the first to reach 90 points since Mike Kompon (90) in 2004-05.