ALLEN, Texas -- If he had an explanation for it, Quad City Mallards coach Terry Ruskowski could have slept a little easier on his team's bus trip back home from Texas last night and today.|
Instead, Ruskowski predicted he'd ring in the new year with a lost night of sleep after a 4-0 loss to the Allen Americans at the Allen Event Center on Monday.
In the midst of a strong stretch with wins in six of their last eight games heading into their New Year's Eve tilt, the Mallards seemed to have it figured out. Then came this.
"It's so frustrating,'' Ruskowski said. "I won't be able to sleep because of this. It's disheartening to play so well to get back to .500 and then play like this."
The Mallards (13-14-3) seemed to be going toe-to-toe with the top team in the CHL, trailing 1-0 after one period and outshooting the hosts 10-4. Then, the game got chippy in the second period and QC backed down to the bigger and tougher Allen team.
Following a pair of fights midway through the period, the Americans took command, firing the final 11 shots of the period on goal and make it a 2-0 game on a tally by Jarrett Lukin with 1:39 left in the second.
"We didn't have a our big-boy pants on for this one," Ruskowski said. "We were very tentative and we got pushed around a little too much."
From the midway point of the second to the midway mark of the third the Mallards were held without a shot on goal for nearly 19 minutes.
"That stat right there doesn't lie,'' Ruskowski said. "If we play someone big and tough we get easily intimidated. I've really got to search some more to find some guys who are tough and can also play. We can't continue to get manhandled as we were here."
The Americans put the game away with goals by Ryley Grantham and Kip Brennan late in the third to send the Mallards home for a game on Wednesday against the Wichita Thunder.
"I can only hope getting back home gets us going again,'' Ruskowski said. "We just have to play less intimidated than we looked in this one."
Rookie Aaron Dell earned the shutout in goal for Allen.
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