(MOLINE, IL) – Sam Warning notched a first period hat-trick for the Quad City Mallards, but the Rapid City Rush came firing in the third period, only to see their comeback fall short in a 5-3 loss on Saturday night. This was the concluding game in the 6-game marathon road trip for the Rush, and now the team heads back home for a three-game series against the Allen Americans on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Quad City jumped out to a 5-0 lead on the power of Sam Warning’s first period hat trick. Captain Chris Francis started off the Mallards scoring entries when he streaked through the middle of the Rush zone a rifled a shot by Rush net-minder Austin Lotz to give Quad City a 1-0 lead 74 seconds into the action (Kevin Gibson and Alex Gudbranson assisted). Sam Warning notched his first of the game when he deflected a shot by Lotz to make it 2-0at the 5:23 mark of the frame (Grant Arnold and Justin Kovacs earned the helpers). Nolan LaPorte finished an odd-man rush down the ice at 12:01 of the period to make it 3-0 in the Mallards favor (Chris Francis earned his second point with an assist, while Michael Parks earned his first on the play). Warning then struck 1:09 later to complete two-thirds of his hat-trick when he poked the puck by a diving Lotz to make it 4-0 Quad City with 6:50 left in the first (Justin Kovacs notched his second assist, while Andrew Panzarella got his first). The fourth goal prompted the substitution of Lotz from the game after 13:10 of action, and Adam Morrison then took over for the remainder of regulation. Shortly after, Warning completed the hat trick with a backhander by Morrison, making it 5-0 Mallards heading into the second period with 4:20 left in the first (both Grant Arnold and Andrew Panzarella recorded their second assists of the night).
Both teams skated to a scoreless draw in the second, but the Rush, for a second straight night, tried to storm back in the final period. Just 36 seconds in, Terrence Wallin hacked a rebound within close range by Mallards goaltender C.J. Motte, to cut the Mallards lead to 5-1 (Hunter Fejes and Alex Mikulovich notched the assists). On the final Rush power play of the game, Brayden Low lost a faceoff draw in the Mallards zone, but Triston Grant came in full bore and fired a shot by Motte to make it a 5-2 Quad City lead (Low got the only assist). With time winding down, Rush captain Ryan Walters won an offensive zone draw, and Riley Weselowski ripped a blue line shot through the slot that was deflected by Lindsay Sparks, his first goal with the Rush in just his second game back from the AHL, to bring the Rush with two at 5-3 with 3:23 left in the game (Weselowski and Walters notched the assists). Shortly following the strike, the Rush pulled Morrison for an extra-attacker, and the effort produced some quality chances to try and come within striking distance, but Motte and the Mallards hung on for a 5-3 win, and a season series sweep against the Rush.
Austin Lotz stopped 5 shots out of 9 faced in 13:10 of work and suffered the loss (2-5-2 total). Adam Morrison played 44:48 in relief, and stopped all but one of 15 shots thrown to his net.
The Rush come back home to take on the defending champion Allen Americans in a three-game set, starting Wednesday night on February 8th. The second game of the series, February 10th, is our 9th Annual “Pink at the Rink” showdown brought to you by SHE 106.3, which, since the organization’s inception, has been our way of doing our part in the fight against breast cancer. The Rush will once again don specialty pink jerseys, sponsored by ASI, which will be auctioned off after the game, with a portion of those proceeds going to the Cancer Care institute. Heading into this ninth edition of the game, the Rush are approaching $300,000 of total donations that STAYS LOCAL in our community of Rapid City for cancer care and research alike. Come out on February 10th to welcome the Rush back home, and help contribute to the battle against such an insidious disease. Call 716-7825 for more information.