Flock fly to 2-1 series edge

Originally Posted Online: April 09, 2014, 11:18 pm
Last Updated: April 10, 2014, 1:39 am
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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

MOLINE -- Thomas Frazee admittedly talked too much trash on social media earlier this week.

However, the Quad City Mallards rookie backed up those words Wednesday, walking the talk by scoring two goals and three points in a 5-1 victory over Rapid City in Game 3 of their first round CHL playoff series.

By winning their home opener in the best-of-seven matchup, the Flock seized a 2-1 series edge, with a chance to close out the series with Games 4 (Friday) and 5 (Saturday) also at Moline's iWireless Center this weekend.

QC's other Thomas, last name Heemskerk, also stood out in goal, turning away 30 shots for his second straight playoff win, and sixth straight victory overall.

``I knew before the game a lot of pressure was on me personally,'' Frazee said. ``After saying what I said, it was nice to come out and get that first goal. After that, I settled in and the whole team played well.''

Earlier in the week, Frazee exchanged some unkind words with Rush captain Scott Wray following a controversial, 3-2 overtime win for QC in Game 2 Saturday at Rapid City.

The Mallards scored the game winner during a 5-on-3 power play to start the extra session when a pair of penalties were called in the final 10 seconds of regulation against the Rush.

Wray mocked Frazee late in the game, flapping his arms like a chicken at the rookie.

``I knew there was a lot of animosity before the game about what was said,'' Frazee said. ``I'd like to apologize to Scott Wray because I didn't mean it in a bad way. It was just a heat of a moment kind of thing. I know he's a wily vet in this league, and I'm not one to take shots like that.''

Instead, as it turned out, Frazee's shot-of-choice is the slap variety.

The CHL Rookie of the Year candidate tied the game with 15:28 gone in the first period, rifling home on a 2-on-1 breakaway from the right wing circle.

Nicholas Rioux and Vladimir Nikiforov were credited with the helpers.

Just over four minutes later, with 18 seconds left in the frame, the Flock capitalized on another 5-on-3 power-play opportunity.

Jeff Lee, QC's leading scorer in the regular season, registered his second goal of the series, rebounding home a Frazee blast from about the same place as the first goal.

Matt Duffy, who scored Game 2's game-winner, added a helper on the go-ahead mark.

``Our goal over there was to get a split. Now to come here and win the first game is huge, but we're so evenly matched, we know there's still a lot of work to do,'' said Mike Stinziani, QC's assistant captain. ``They beat us 5-1, we beat them in overtime, now we beat them 5-1. So it could go either night against these guys.''

The two goals were in direct response to Rapid City taking the early lead on a controversial goal 7 minutes and 37 seconds into the game.

On a rebound in front of the QC net, Wray went flying over Heemskerk into the goal, with the puck apparently following from a Sean Erickson tap in.

Wray made contact with Heemskerk, but was deemed to have been pushed into QC's goalie, so the score was allowed, much to the displeasure of the 3,874 fans on hand.

``I'll have to watch the video; I still haven't seen the puck in the net,'' Heemskerk said. ``The guy went up over me, and landed in the net, and the next thing I knew Stinziani had the puck near the blue line, but the ref was pointing for a goal. It was really a strange play.''

The contested score only seemed to fire up the Mallards, though.

``We responded,'' QC Mallards coach Terry Ruskowski said. ``We were like, `That's not going to happen again.' We got a little mad and then got even.''

After a scoreless second period, the Flock finally added much-needed breathing room with 8:42 remaining in regulation.

Crisp passes by Jordan Mayer, then Justin Fox, produced a breakaway chance for Stinziani, and the Mallards assistant captain beat CHL title-winning goalie Tim Boron.

``Right before that play, almost the same thing happened,'' Stinziani said. ``We got back to the bench, and he said, `I saw you there, but their defense got their stick in the way.' And I said, `No worries. It will come again.' Thank God it did.

``Both guys made great passes and I went high on Boron, and that took pressure off our guys and put more pressure on them.''

With 75 seconds left, the Mallards also added an empty-netter by Frazee, with Rapid City pulling Boron for the extra attacker.

Rookie Mayer also beat Boron for QC's third breakaway goal of the game, unassisted with 38 ticks remaining.

Mayer and Nikiforov (two assists) both added two points for the Flock.

``Three breakaways and we scored on all three. That's probably not going to happen ever again against Boron,'' Stinziani said. ``How many times have guys scored in the shootout this season against him? He's an unreal goalie. That's not characteristic of him, but we'll take what we can get, and we have to ride that momentum now.''


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Oct. 1, the 274th day of 2014. There are 91 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: It is rumored in the streets that the 13 negroes sent to Quincy on the Moline quota were refused. We think this must be a mistake.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Harvey McKenna, of Detroit, billiard player matched to play Wizard Schafer in New York in January for the world championship, was a professional friend and manager, Billy Catton in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Levi Cralle, former Rock Island county sheriff, had come from his farm near Mitchell, S.D. to visit friends in the city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Work is being rushed on the new high school building in Orion to replace the one destroyed by fire last winter. Classes are being held in churches.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Rehearsals for the 84th season of the Handel Oratorio Society chorus will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the stage of Centennial Hall, Augustana College.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Rock Island City Council's plan announced this week to have the federal government vacate Valley Homes public housing and move residents to Arsenal Courts to reduce density may not be feasible.

(More History)