The Quad City Mallards did everything but win Friday night.|
Mallards coach Terry Rustkowski isn't so sure they really didn't win.
"That last goal of their's was clearly offsides,'' Ruskowski said after a 3-2 shootout setback to Rapid City at Moline's i wireless Center.
"If they shoot the puck and they're offside, it's still offside even if they come onside.''
Ruskowski even checked the tape after the Rush broke a 1-1 shootout tie in the ninth round of sudden death.
The Mallards coach then made a brief stop inside the officials' dressing room to plead his case.
"Lying (son-a-gun), he told me he didn't have his hand in the air. But the replay shows he did,'' Ruskowski lamented after the thriller between a pair of teams fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot with a month left in the CHL regular season.
"At least tell me the truth that you blew the call. It's offsides when the other team shoots the puck into our zone without being there first.'
At least ninth-place QC's closest contenders lost Friday.
Bloomington (24-22-2, 50 points) fell 3-2 at Missouri, and Arizona (23-23-5, 51 points) was shut out at Tulsa, both in regulation, to actually lose a point of standings ground to the Mallards (20-21-6, 56 points).
However, Ruskowski wanted so much more than a point for reaching the shootout in QC's first of three home games in five days with Rapid City (also Tuesday) and Arizona (tonight).
"We needed two points,'' Ruskowski said. "We had a first-period lead (1-0) and then a third-period (2-1) and couldn't hold either.''
That's hardly the fault of QC goalie John Murray, who played brilliantly in net, blocking 54 of the 58 shots by Rapid City (24-20-5, 53 points).
Rush all-star goalie Tim Boron was good, too, though, turning away 31-of-34 shots by QC.
"It's not Murray's fault,'' said Ruskowski. "He played great again and really carried us.''
Rookie Mike Hellyer scored both QC go-ahead goals off of assists by veteran Shayne Toporowski.
QC's Mike Stinziani and scoring leader Mickey Lang teamed for a breakaway and a last-second, second-period shot, but the goal was denied when it just missed beating the horn.
Rapid City's Kyle Perro scored an unassisted goal with eight minutes left in regulation, forcing overtime and then the shootout.
Lang then prolonged the shootout in the fourth exgtra shooter for both teams, answering the second score by Damian Surma for Rapid City.
But Rusty Masters added a goal in the ninth round, and QC's Matt Boyd failed to answer in the sudden-death session.
Stil, it was that game-tying goal that sticks in Rustkowski's craw.
"If it wasn't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all,'' Ruskowski said. "Unbelievable. How does it come off the glass first. I haven't seen that in a long, long time. It should have been a no-goal."
Peto'sbizarre goal tried to dump the puck behind the Mallard net from center ice, and it caromed crazily off the boards and into the Mallard goal after Murray had stepped out of the crease anticipating that the puck would carry to the end boards.