Originally Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014, 11:05 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2014, 11:36 pm

League leader edges Mallards again

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

MOLINE -- Obi Aduba spent the previous four seasons with the Quad City Mallards. The 29-year-old forward made them pay Wednesday for not bringing him back for a fifth straight campaign.

Aduba scored his second goal in as many games against his old club, and Shane Owen turned away 35 shots to make that third-period tiebreaker stand up, as CHL leader Missouri survived a 2-1 showdown with the local minor-league hockey club at Moline's iWireless Center.

Aduba, a sixth-year pro, scored 65 goals and 154 points in 271 career games for the Mallards.

"I don't care who scores,'' QC coach Terry Ruskowski said. "I didn't want anyone to score. I didn't want the goalie to score. So it didn't matter if it was him or not.

"He's a good guy, but he didn't want to come back to play for us, so what am I going to do? So I traded him to Arizona (in the offseason) and he got away from there and went to them. There's nothing I can do about it.''

Not that Mallards goalie Ty Rimmer didn't try. So did Aduba's old teammate, QC captain and defenseman Darren McMillan.

"We had pretty good coverage,'' Rimmer said about the go-ahead rush with 10:30 remaining in regulation. "Mac put his stick in the lane. The puck just somehow vaulted right off his stick and went bar down. That's the kind of bounce you talk about that decides hockey games like this.''

The outcome kept the Mallards (24-13-8, 56 points) in a fourth-place tie with the Double-A circuit's defending champ Allen heading into a three-games-in-three cities road trip this weekend.

The victory was the fourth straight for Missouri (32-13-2, 66 points), and fourth in as many tries this season with the Flock, who fell to the Mavericks, 5-2 Sunday in the Kansas City suburbs.

"It definitely stings,'' Rimmer said after stopping 22 shots. "I thought we played well enough to win.

"We had the forecheck going. Guys were flying around. But we have to find a way to bury our opportunities against these guys. Going down the stretch, there are going to be a lot of 2-1 games like this, teams are going to be grinding and goalies are going to be playing well. That's playoff hockey and we're going to need to win these games.''

Included in QC's final 21 regular-season games are six more meetings with the Mavericks, who took the early lead in the second period with a shorthanded score by Anders Franzon off a feed by John-Scott Dickson.

"The guy made a good move,'' Rimmer said. "All three goals (Wednesday) were great individual efforts. Obviously, I'd like to have that back, but the guy made a good move on our defense and then put it off the post and in.''

Newly named QC assistant captain Jeff Lee answered, though, for a 1-1 tie heading into the third period.

"I saw a chance to go to the net and I just took it,'' Lee said after his team-leading 17th goal of the season. "I had some room and I just held on to it. I don't know if someone threw a pick -- either (Vladimir Nikiforov) or (Mike Stinziani) -- but I just kept walking with it. I had the whole net. I don't even think he saw it.''

While the Mallards were dominated in the shots on goal category Sunday, 35-18, QC was the aggressor Wednesday, 36-24.

``We outworked them,'' Lee said. ``We just can't have any lapses.''

Agreed Ruskowski, ``They're just vultures, feeding off your mistakes.''

All four games with Missouri now have been decided late in the third period, Rimmer noted.

"We've played these guys tight,'' the goalie said. "It's not like we're getting blown out. So we're not going to get discouraged.

"I think this was a step in the right direction. This was the best game we've played against these guys.''

Ruskowski disagreed, though.

"We still lost. It's not a step in the right direction,'' the coach countered. "Good teams find a way to win. We've played them four times now, and they find a way to win and we don't.'' 

However, Ruskowski and Rimmer can agree on one thing.

``We're going to see these guys a lot down the stretch,'' Rimmer said. ``That rivalry is starting to build. They don't like us very much, and we're not very fond of them, either. The next six games against them are going to be very important.''