The Quad City Mallards are scuffling right now, struggling to close the regular season strong on the ice, secure a high playoff seed and take some much-needed momentum into next month's postseason.|
That's hardly the case beyond the rink, though, where the Flock is finishing this regular season's final month with a bang in the promotions department.
This campaign's final six home games are marked by celebrity visits, parties, tons of giveaways and a charity jersey auction.
Taken alone, this weekend's two-game slate is packed with enough fun for the stretch run. Both games start at 7:05 p.m. at Moline's iWireless Center.
University of Iowa football great Chuck Long and 2012 Miss USA Nana Meriwether are making appearances tonight.
Long, the 1985 Heisman Trophy runner-up and 1999 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, was the second quarterback in college football history to throw for more than 10,000 yards.
Meriwether also is a professional and Olympic-level volleyball player and philanthropist, as the co-founder of the Meriwether Foundation, an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving health and empowering communities.
Long and Meriwether will meet fans, sign autographs and pose for pictures. Meriwether also is dropping the puck for a ceremonial faceoff on the season's final $1 hot dog/$1 beer night.
The Mallards also have partnered with Metro this season to provide earlier bus service on Route 59, starting at 6 p.m., between Augustana College and downtown Moline during Friday home games.
The route resumes service every 30 minutes between 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Regular Metro fares are just $1 one-way, but Augie students with their ID ride free.
Saturday night the Mallards are hosting their second game-worn jersey auction of the season. The benefiting charity is the Genesis Outpatient Pediatric Therapy Center.
For the last time, the Mallards are donning special edition orange jerseys, with the frocks going up for bid after the game. January's jersey auction raised $18,600, and better than $700,000 has gone to charity in 19 seasons of the local tradition.
Also on Saturday, the first 1,000 children through the doors receive free Mallards youth replica jerseys courtesy of Genesis Health System. Moline's Bier Stube also hosts a postgame party for fans and players.
After this weekend, the Mallards have a pair of "Winning Wednesday's'' remaining -- March 12 and 19 -- with the former offering free tickets to the next Wednesday home game with a QC victory. Sponsor T.G.I. Friday's also hosts a post-game party each night.
For March 22's John Deere Community Night, 2,000 tickets discounted to $5 are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the arena box office. The tickets are available now until they're sold out.
The March 30 regular-season finale also has been set aside for Fan Appreciation Day. The celebration annually offers several raffles, door prizes and other goodies.
As was the case for the Mallards other Sunday home contests this season, fans in attendance also receive a voucher good for a free bag of popcorn, among other fun in the works.
With season tickets figured in, and only 333 fans to go, the local minor league hockey club already is assured of zooming past the 100,000 attendance mark for the 18th time in 19 seasons.
And with an average crowd of 3,691 this season -- almost 700 per game over a year ago -- the Mallards have an outside chance at their best average draw in a decade.
Certainly, the Flock's promotions department is taking a swing at that figure.
QC Mallards this weekend
Games: The Mallards host Arizona tonight and Saturday, both 7:05 p.m. at Moline's iWireless Center.
Radio tonight: WFXN-AM 1230 & wfxn.net. Webcast Saturday: myqcmallards.com. Pay-per-view TV: AmericanOneSports.com. Twitter updates: @SteveTappa_DA.
Storyline: The Mallards (26-18-8, 60 points) host Arizona (26-24-6, 58 points) for an important series of CHL playoff positioning. The Flock are in seventh, two points ahead of the Sun Dogs, who are up seven points over Wichita for the final playoff spot in the Double-A circuit. QC also is four points out of fifth in a tightly-packed CHL. The Mallards have lost three straight, all at home, and are 0-1-2 against Arizona this season, with all three games decided by a single goal.
News: The Mallards signed forward Jordan Mayer out of Canada's college ranks Thursday, waiving veteran Chris Greene to make roster room for the new addition. The 22-year-old Mayer scored five goals and 21 points in 28 games this season with Prince Edward Island. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder produced 95 goals and 196 points in 296 games and five top-tier junior seasons. Greene scored two goals and picked up two assists in eight games with the Mallards after signing with the club last month.
Notes: QC is 1-3-0 so far on a season-long, seven-game homestand. ... Arizona edged QC 1-0 on Jan. 11 during the SunDogs only previous trip here. ... QC's co-starter in goal, Thomas Heemskerk, has lost six straight decisions after starting 11-1-4 with four Triple-A call-ups. ... QC's Jim McKenzie has signed a second professional tryout agreement with the Mallards AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild. McKenzie has three goals and five assists in 24 Triple-A games this season.
Around the league: Former Mallard Anthony Perdicaro has been suspended a game by the CHL for an illegal check to the head, and will miss Rapid City's visit tonight to Tulsa. ... Missouri's reigning CHL MVP, Sebastien Thinel, became the third CHL player to 900 career points Wednesday at QC. Only CHL Hall of Famers Joe Burton (985) and Travis Clayton (982) have scored more in the Double-A circuit.
Next: The Mallards conclude a season-long, seven-game homestand Wednesday with Denver.
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