Terry Harrison helped the Rockford IceHogs torment the Quad City Mallards during the 2004-05 United Hockey League season. Chris Lipsett remembers hearing the stories of The Mark of the Quad Cities and the home dominance by those Mallards.|
Tonight, those two will pull the Quad City sweater over their heads and skate out to a new era of Mallards' hockey when the team opens its home season against the Fort Wayne Komets at the i wireless Center. Faceoff is scheduled for 7 and the festivities begin with "Faceoff Rocks" at 4 p.m. in the arena's parking lot.
The elder statesmen of this new version of the Mallards both remember well the history of the organization.
Harrison, 31 played for the IceHogs for that one season when Rockford did not lose a game on QCice.
"I like the arena for a couple of reasons,'' Harrison said. "I have the memories of winning every game, although I'm sure the fans don't like that too much. And I like it now because of the larger ice surface which lends well to my game because I'm not too big (6-foot and 190 pounds) and I like to use my quickness."
Lipsett, 35, has never played here as an opponent, but heard all of the stories of a team that won 50 games six straight seasons and was the crown jewel of minor-league hockey.
"I just heard a lot of good things about the Mallards -- the way the organization was run, the way the fans supported the team and the way they won,'' Lipsett said. "It was one of the top organizations in minor pro hockey.
"What I like is that since we came to town, all we hear is how excited the fans are to have the Mallards back. I don't think a lot of people really understand how important it is to play in a place where you are loved and where the fans back their team. You can win a lot of games because of a strong home-ice advantage.''
Even though his IceHogs won in the Quad-Cities, Harrison noted the crowd backing the home team. "The fans were great and the atmosphere was great,'' he said. "It was always fun to play here because the fans cheered the home team and made the visitors feel uncomfortable.''
Lipsett and Harrison are being counted on to bring some of that mystique back to Mallards' hockey. Both will be counted on to be offensive standouts and leaders on a very young hockey team.
Lipsett is in his 13th pro season and has had 20 or more goals in 10 of those seasons. Harrison is in his seventh season and has been in double figures in goals four times. They will lead in different ways.
"I want to be thought of as a strong two-way player,'' Lipsett said. "I understand that defense wins championships. As far as leadership, that's something I enjoy. I've been a player-assistant coach and I've been counted on to be a leader. It helps that I've played a couple of seasons for Frank (Anzalone, Mallards coach).''
Added Harrison, "I don't want to be cocky and start telling everyone I'm going to score this many or that many goals. I am a firm believer that you score goals because you have good players around you. I want this to be a team where the opponent has no idea who they have to stop.
"I'm not a big talker when it comes to being a leader. I'm more a guy who does his job on the ice and hopes the younger players learn by example.''
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