The Quad City Mallards of the Central Hockey League last weekend wrapped the 2011-12 season, a successful campaign that ended with a rousing win over the Bloomington Blaze last Saturday night on home ice and saw the Mallards reach a series of milestones on and off the ice.
The Mallards finished 37-27-2 and totaled 76 points in their first year under head coach and general manager David Bell. The Mallards won more games, picked up more points and scored more goals- 230- than any Mallards team since 2006-07. The aggressive, attack-minded system instituted by Bell saw the Mallards finish just one goal shy of the league lead and score 44 more times than they did last season.
While the Mallards, who finished in fifth place in the CHL’s Turner Conference, came up just short in their bid to qualify for the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup playoffs, they did finish the season with a record better than those of two postseason qualifiers from the Berry Conference and close out the year with a flourish. A strong stretch run saw the Mallards go 9-5-1 in their final 14 games and wrap up with a 5-2 win over Bloomington in front of the 5,989 fans- the largest crowd to watch the Mallards at the i wireless Center since March 20, 2010. Overall, the Mallards enjoyed a 17 percent increase in attendance this season over 2010-11.
The Mallards finished the season as the league’s second highest scoring team thanks to a host of standout performances, spearheaded by CHL Most Valuable Player Brandon Marino. Marino, who on Monday became the first player in Mallard history to take MVP honors, led the league with 41 goals and finished second in the CHL in points with 90. He is the first Mallard since Luke Stauffacher (42) in 2006-07 to top 40 goals in a season and the first since Mike Kompon (90) in 2004-05 to reach the 90-point plateau. The third year forward also led the league in power play goals (13), ranked fourth in assists (49) and finished tied for fourth in shorthanded goals. Marino was also named to the All-CHL Team.
Marino was- along with Eric Giosa and Jared Brown- one of three Mallards to finish in the top ten in the league in point-scoring. Giosa (28-42-70) established career highs in goals, assists and points while finishing eighth in the league in points, tied for ninth in assists and tied for tenth in goals. Brown (26-40-66), meanwhile, finished tied for ninth in points league-wide and led rookies in points and assists and finished tied for fourth among first-year players in goals. For his efforts, Brown was named to the CHL’s All-Rookie Team.
Brown, Mickey Lang, Jeremy Boyer and Sean Flanagan formed a quartet of Mallard rookie forwards who provided not just youthful energy but also significant production for the club. Lang in particular enjoyed a strong finish. Yesterday he was named Oakley CHL First Star for March after scoring nine goals and collecting 13 assists for a league-best 22 points and posting a league-high plus/minus rating of +19 in 13 games in the final month of the season.
The Mallards are just one of two teams who can boast five players- Marino, Giosa, Brown and veterans Justin Chwedoruk and John Snowden- who totaled 52 or more points this season after no Mallard reached that total in 2010-11.
His first year with the Mallards was a memorable one for Snowden, who scored his two hundredth career goal and played in his six hundredth career game this season. Chwedoruk likewise reached significant personal milestones- cracking the one hundred career goal barrier and skating in his four hundredth game. Mallard captain Darren McMillan played his four hundredth career game in the final week of the season.
McMillan and Bob Preece formed one of the most consistent defense pairs in the CHL this season. McMillan finished tied for fourth in the league in plus/minus (+24) while Preece (+23) was tied for sixth. Both blue liners played in each of the Mallards’ 66 games this season, as did Brown and Jason Kostadine. In fact, McMillan and Kostadine- who finished fourth in the league with 189 penalty minutes- have both played in each of the Mallards’ 132 regular season games over the last two years.
The Mallards also benefited from consistently strong play in goal this season from David Brown and David McKee. Their quality performances earned both Brown and McKee multiple call-ups to the American Hockey League- Brown with the Abbotsford Heat and McKee with the Peoria Rivermen.
The Mallards now turn to preparing for next season. Season tickets for the 2012-13 campaign are now available; season tickets packages paid for in full by April 13 will be discounted 15 percent. The Mallards offer ticket packages to meet any budget, including youth season tickets now available for as little at $165. For more season ticket information, fans can call the Mallards at 309-277-1364.