NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- A delayed training camp. A season saved at the last second. Out of the playoffs until the final month of the regular season.
The Quad City Mallards have overcome so much this season. Now, they need to find a way to erase a 2-0 deficit in the CHL playoffs.
The shorthanded Flock face that dark postseason proposition after falling short of hurdling their latest case of adversity Saturday night, a 3-2 overtime loss to Fort Worth at the tight-and-tiny NYTEX Sports Centre.
Despite playing without CHL Rookie of the Year Mike Hellyer and top-line defenseman Bob Preece, the Mallards owned leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period.
However, as was the case in Thursday's 4-1 decision in the series opener, third-seeded Fort Worth rallied past the sixth-seeded Mallards for a victory in the best-of-7 playoff series.
To add insult to injury, John Snowden, a veteran forward on last season's Mallards, beat his old team with a goal 4:47 into sudden-death overtime.
The Mallards have beaten Fort Worth just once in six tries this season, though that win came March 3 in the Brahmas last visit to Moline's i wireless Center.
If necessary, QC hosts the next three games of the series starting Wednesday night.
Regardless, Mallards coach Terry Ruskowski confirmed on the team's radio broadcast that Hellyer will miss the rest of the playoffs after suffering a serious knee injury in Game 1.
Preece's return is uncertain, with the veteran listed as day-to-day with a concussion suffered in the opener.
Both Hellyer and Preece were injured on contentious hits in the first five minutes of the series. The Double-A circuit can't review the plays, though, with the CHL TV feed down early in that contest, preventing the hits from appearing on the videotape of the game.
"It's real bad,'' Ruskowski said about Hellyer's injury. "He may have to have surgery.The fact there are no repercussions possible for the other team really sits sour with me.''
Despite missing those two, the Mallards were down only one skater Saturday, with little-used Gabriel Boutin-Gagnon pressed into spot duty on defense by QC. Ruskowski remains looking for a replacement for Hellyer.
"The tough part is we're missing more than just two guys,'' the Mallards coach said. "We're missing the (CHL) Rookie of the Year and a top blue-liner. You don't just replace those guys.''
Not that the Mallards didn't try Saturday.
QC's rookie goaltender, Neil Conway, made an inspired playoff debut, getting the start instead of veteran Game 1 netminder John Murray.
Conway turned away 34-of-37 shots, but after QC's 10 shots on goal in the opening frame, the Flock managed just 13 more attempts, and none in overtime as the defensive-minded Brahmas once again choked off the Mallards offense.
The Mallards also managed but one power-play chance, compared to Fort Worth's 1-for-4 success rate on the man-advantage.
"We were not punishing John for losing the other night,'' Ruskowski explained. "We just wanted to change things up and keep them both fresh and sharp. There's still a long way to go.''
As was the case in Game 1, the Mallards got the lead again -- twice this time.
First, QC captain Darren McMillan scored shorthanded with help from Jason Dixon, just short of the 15-minute mark.
QC led the CHL with 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season.
Tomas Klempa evened the score, though, with a power-play goal for Fort Worth 2 1/2 minutes later.
However, QC scoring leader Mickey Lang answered with 45 ticks left in the opening period, redirecting shot by rookie defender Matt Carlson. McMillan also got an assist.
Conway made the 2-1 lead standup with several point-blank saves until 1:41 into the third frame, when Callin Wild scored the equalizer on a one-timer.
McMillan's two points for QC were balanced by two assists by Fort Worth defender Ross Rouleau, as the Mallards fell for the first time in three overtime decisions this season.
Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river. 1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.