Flocked Up: Quad City Mallards vs. Wichita Thunder

As you can probably tell, things did not go well for the boys from QC tonight.  

Other possible titles for this post: 

Mallards Mallase
Molting Mallards
Bird of a Feather Lose Together
What The Hell Was That?

I kid, but really, what was that?  The Mallards had a rough go of it tonight, in a game that could have gone their way.  Had they played the entire game like they played the first few minutes of the first two periods, they would have dominated.  But a few bounces, a few strange plays, and a glove hand that just wasn’t enough at times, and this game was out of hand quickly.  The Thunder take it 5-1.  

I am usually not one to dog on the refs, but there was an obvious point in this game where things could quickly get out of hand.  While looking right at the play, the ref didn’t call a boarding call that shouldn’t have gone gotten by him.  I thought things were going to turn into a circus, but that thankfully didn’t happen.  I can’t credit the officiating crew for keeping things calm, but I will say they could have done a much better job.

To the photos.  Hey, who’s that? Why, it’s my old pal Aaron Boogaard.  I seem to see him everywhere.  In fact, he scored his first goal of the season tonight.  I would like to think that I’m his good luck charm, but if I told him that, he would probably beat me up.  Better just keep that to myself.

 

Boogard1

The Mallards have a giant inflatable duck head wearing a helmet that vomits players onto the ice. That is the only way I can describe it.

Mallards134

The I Wireless Arena (formerly known by it’s better name, the MARK) is a nice place, big and comfortable.  Too big, it turns out, so they black out some of the seats with curtains.  You might be familiar with the Florida Panthers doing the same thing.  Also the Hartford Wolfpack Connecticut Whale.  Giant pillowy curtains really make for an intimate setting. Or something.

Mallards107   Mallards106

Did I mention spacious and comfortable?  Yeah, this is the polar opposite of the Des Moines Buccaneers arena, as you can see here, and here. 

Mallards102

Nice knob. 

Knobby

OK, a little action.  

Mallards147

Mallards151

Mallards138

I have to admit, I didn’t get a lot of photos from this game.  The glass put some warp into the images, and I got kind of fed up with it.  In fact, it’s some of the tallest glass I’ve ever seen on the sides of a rink.  Tall and crappy.  Kind of like (insert player from your hated rival here).  Yeah, good one. 

Here is the chuck-a-puck aftermath.  And while six of those are mine, on’y one of mine won a free sub. That’s right, I’m a winner.  Mad skills. 

Mallards144

I kind of like this one.  It’s like artistic chuck-a-puck photography.  I don’t think I should start of business around it, though.  Niche audience for sure. 

Mallards142

A half salute for a half effort.  Actually, that isn’t fair. The Mallards put effort into it tonight.  They just didn’t hold on to any momentum they earned early in the periods.  

Mallards154

Swag report – I picked up this puck.  

Mallards159

How do you like that key card for my room? ‘Merica.

And then I got the mascot to hold it for a photo. 

Mallards158

Rocking.  

Recaps from the travel blog:

Period 1
Period 2
Period 3

Boxscore

 You can follow along on the travel blog.  Lots of smaller posts, with some real gems along the way. 

Thunder vs. RiverKings: One Bounce

In the 2005-06 season, I took a road trip through half of the Central Hockey League and the entire 14 team (at the time) United Hockey League.  One of my early stops was in Wichita, Kansas, to see the Thunder take on the Oklahoma City Blazers.  The third period was the longest period of hockey I had ever witnessed. According to the gamesheet, the first minute featured 3 1/2 fights (third man in), or as the highly classy CHL likes to call it, Fisticuffs.  The Unsportsmanlike penalty to the goalie was the result of him squirting the player who charged him in the first place as that player was skating by the goal crease while being ejected.

This Sunday’s match between the Thunder and the Mississippi RiverKings was a tamer affair.  In the five and a half years since my last tour of Wichita, the city built a new arena downtown, and they brought the fancy along with the schmancy.

WH070

Nice digs, eh?  Take a look inside:

WH071

 

WH075

 

The interior:

WH093

 

WH098

This game was a tale of two different battles.  Not to give it away, but the first was the RiverKings goalie battle with the puck.  No matter how Zen Master he may look here, he wasn’t that way after the game started:

WH100

The other battle was between the rest of the RiverKings and Thunder goalie Marty Magers.

WH106

In fact, I’m just going to go ahead and say it.  Tonight, Magers put on a show.  At times, he was helped by his teammates, but every goalie has those moments.  Magers made the medium shots look easy, and the hard ones look like he was Tim Thomas in his finest form.  It was pure entertainment, and I loved every minute of it.

Can I just say that Wichita has a better center ice scoreboard than the New York Islanders?

WH117

It’s sad. The Islanders should haul the city council down to Wichita and make them feel shame.

Hey, what the hell is with the guys in body suits?  Why can you not go anywhere without seeing one of them?  Get off my lawn! Or at least, get some waffles:

WH122

After an eternity of special sponsored puck drops, end of season awards (this was the last game of the regular season), and everything else to delay the start of the game, the puck finally dropped.

 

Action!

WH141 WH140

No, really, this is action.

WH149

 

Grrrr!!!! Goalie Mad!!!!

WH162

 

WH168

WH171

Overall, this guy did a pretty good job, which can be saying something for a minor league ref.  He missed a few things, but when you are dealing with a one ref system, that’s going to happen.  Mostly, he got it right.

WH159

OK, back to the hockey.

 

WH177

 

WH182

 

WH187

 

WH188

With 3:40 left in the game, the Thunder were called for a double minor high sticking.  You could argue a high stick call, but because it was a double minor, I will assume blood, and it was the right call.  The crowd was savvy enough to boo the initial call, but when it was announced as four minutes, reluctantly accepted reality.  Unfortunately, the only goal for the RiverKings came on the first half of that double minor, with 2:53 left in the game.  The shutout bid for Magers was ruined, and he was visibly upset by it, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation after the RiverKings goal, which he had certainly earned.  He was the unquestioned first star of the game.

WH211

 

Magers made 44 saves in the 8-1 victory, while Alexander Pechurskiy at the other end only made 22, and the Thunder had two shothanded goals.

But wait, there’s more.

The last time I was in Wichita, I won the intermission Chuck-A-Puck. If you don’t know what Chuck-A-Puck is, you need to go to a minor league game.  Essentially, you throw foam pucks on the ice at the second intermission, and try to get it in a bucket or helmet, or near a target, and you win a price.  In 2005, I got the puck in a bucket at center ice (pro tip: one bounce).  Two other people did as well that night, and we wound up splitting the cash prize. I have never repeated the feat since.

Until tonight.

I don’t know what it is about Wichita, but I won again, this time as one of several winners as there were multiple targets laid on the ice.  And what did I win?  What prize would be perfect for someone from Colorado, a traveling man, one who moves around a lot for work, and hasn’t been to Wichita in 5 1/2 years?

Two tickets to a Thunder game next season.

……   …….

So, who’s up for a game?