Posted Online: Jan. 03, 2013, 6:17 pm

Denver at QC Mallards

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Mallards captain Darren McMillan skates after a puck in the Mallards match up with the Wichita Thunder, Wednesday, January 2, 2013, at the i wireless Center in Moline.
Tonight: 7:05 p.m. at Moline's i wireless Center.

Radio: WFXN-AM 1230 and wfxn.net. Webcast: myqcmallards.com (pay-per-view CHL TV). Twitter updates: @SteveTappa_DA.

Special: The Mallards retire the jersey number of franchise scoring leader Glenn Stewart, kicking off the 15th anniversary of the Flock's Stewart-led back-to-back championships in 1997 and '98. WLLR Country Music Night also offers fans a chance to win tickets to the Jan. 11 Rascal Flatts concert and the Jan. 25 World's Toughest Rodeo, both at the i wi.

Storyline: The Mallards (13-15-3, 29 points) meet Denver's expansion Cutthroats (18-11-3, 39 points) for the first time. Tonight also marks the end of QC's measuring-stick, four-game stretch of the Central Hockey League's top three teams. The Flock has fallen to league-leading Allen (4-0) and last-season finalist Wichita (5-1) already this week. Third-place Denver boasts half of the CHL's 40-point scorers to date in A.J. Gale (42 points, 19 goals) and Brad Smyth (41 points, 16 goals).

News: Denver goalie Kent Patterson was named the CHL's Third Star of December this week. The rookie went 6-1-1 during the month with a sparkling 1.85 goals-against average and .943 save-percentage. The native Minnesotan picked up where Kieran Millan left off, with November's First Star recalled by AHL Lake Erie.

Notes: Of QC's 35 remaining games, 16 are on the road, including six trips to CHL scoring leader Bloomington and five more visits to fourth-place Missouri. In all, the Mallards meet either rival a whopping 21 times to close this season. ... If the Flock falls tonight, QC will have more home losses (7) than anyone else in the CHL. ... Denver's Gale, Smyth and Troy Schwab (37 points) all have outscored QC scoring leader Mickey Lang (34 points, 16 goals). ... Lang's plus-7 leads QC; Obi Aduba's minus-12 is the Flock's worst rating. ... After scoring on 6-of-23 power plays to start a late-December winning streak, QC's league-worst man-advantage attack (8.77 success rate) is scoreless on its last 22 chances.

Around the league: Allen took a hit Wednesday when leading scorer Scotty Howes was recalled by AHL Springfield. ... Denver also lost forward Ben Wilson to a recall this week by AHL Lake Erie. ... AHL Peoria's Jay Barriball is rehabbing with Bloomington this weekend because ECHL farmclub Evansville does not have roster room right now.

Next: The Mallards host Arizona on Wednesday.

-- By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com