FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Quad City Mallards have suffered their share of setbacks since joining the Central Hockey League three seasons ago.|
However, the Flock has never been beaten as badly as they have been in the last two games.
Combined with Sunday's 7-2 debacle at Bloomington, a 5-0 decision Wednesday night at Fort Worth marked the Mallards' on-ice low-point in the Double-A circuit.The blanking also was the first time the Mallards have been shutout since back-to-back games with Evansville in late January of last season.
Only 901 fans showed up to see the mid-week yawner at the NYTEX Sports Center in Texas.
"When I was in (downstate) Laredo, I'd go to see games nearby, not to see the home team, but to see how the visitors played," QC coach Terry Ruskowski said. "It's easy to play at home. It's hard to play on the road, in a hostile rink, when you're dead tired.
"These are the kinds of games that reveal character, and unfortunately, we don't have enough of that right now. I'm afraid I'm going to have to make some changes, and people are going to get mad at me when I have to cut their favorite player.''
Fort Worth (7-7-2, 16 points) used the shutout to leapfrog the Flock in the CHL standings.QC (6-7-3, 15 points) settled into the eight and final playoff spot in the 10-team league.
"I am very disappointed in the effort,'' said Ruskowski. "We had a gameplan that we just did not follow. We had some early season successes, and now guys have gone away from it, and are doing their own thing for some reason.
"It got to the point I had to bench some guys I count on because they just weren't doing anything. I would have benched even more guys, but I ran out of bench. So I'm afraid i'm going to have to look for some different players. I hate to lose, and right now, I don't sense I have enough of those kinds of guys."
However, confounding any roster moves right now by Ruskowski is a brutal 16-day stretch with 10 games in a different city each night.
Thankfully, the extended road trip comes to an end this weekend, when the Mallards meet Missouri for a home-and-home series, visiting Missouri on Friday and hosting the Mavericks on Saturday.
"Our whole practice (today) is going to focus on defense, because it's been non-existant the last two games," Ruskowski groused. "We have to start showing some life.''
Just last Wednesday, in Kristofer Westblom's first game for the Brahmas, the former NHL Draft Pick allowed the Mallards but one goal in a 2-1 shootout setback.
This time, the Brahamas goalie turned away all 18 shots, as the Flock found little room to create in the discplined dump-and-check defensive scheme of Fort Worth, the lowest-scoring squad in the CHL.
"It's ugly, boring hockey," Ruskowski said. "But we also didn't win any battles. We didn't get a decent scoring chance, and in the corners, they were always coming up with the puck for a rush the other way.''
Five different Brahmas scored goals, three of them coming in the opening period, when the hosts took command.
Tomas Klempa, Sy Nutkevitch and Adam Hogg each scored goals, and assisted on another score, to tally a pair of points.
QC goalie John Murray made 17 saves on the 22 shots managed by the Texas team.
The Mallards managed but one power play, failing to score for the 27th time in their last 28 chances on the man-advantage.
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