Originally Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2013, 9:30 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2013, 11:37 pm
Mallards Jersey auction part of record-setting weekend
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By Steve Tappa, firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck|
The Quad City Mallards' Shayne Toporowski (17) drives the puck towards the goal as Wichita Thunder's Andrew Martens (55) defends during the third period Sunday Oct 28, 2012 at the i wireless Center.
Shayne Toporowski has donned a National Hockey League uniform during his 18-year pro career.
Yet, the Quad City Mallards forward said pulling on the Double-A club's sweater tonight will offer a special thrill.
That's because the Flock is wearing "Turn 'Back-to-Back' the Clock" togs for the annual Genesis Jersey Auction night.
The throwback jerseys mark the 15th anniversary of the second of two straight league championships won by the Mallards in 1997 and '98.
Toporowski's older brother Kerry, one of four Mallards to have their numbers retired by the team, played on that second title winner.
"I remember coming to those games and seeing those jerseys," said Shayne Toporowski, who was then a third-year pro with Triple-A AHL Worcester. "It was a great barn to come into and watch my brother and that team win their championship. Winning back-to-back titles at any level is special. So I'm honored to get a chance to wear that jersey."
Toporowski promised he'll hardly be alone, either, with the jerseys a ready reminder to his younger teammates of their 16-year-old team's successful history.
"Any time you get a chance to pull on any jersey in pro hockey it's a special day," Toporowski said. "But when you have a franchise that had success like that, you want to represent them well.
"It'll be a good night for the fans, too, and bring back some good memories. Hopefully we put a good product on the ice so we can bring some fans back our way."
The post-game auction of the game-worn gear benefits the Genesis Flu Free QC program.
Also available during the game are Genesis "Stand Up To Breast Cancer" posters featuring the Mallards. The posters cost $10 each, or two for $17, with proceeds benefiting the Genesis Centers for Breast Health.
"It's a neat thing," Toporowski said about the Mallards' annual fundraiser. "It's great to give the sweater off your back to the fans that support you, and you know you're raising money for a good cause, too."
To top it off, this two-game weekend is shaping up to be a recordbreaker attendance-wise for the Mallards.
More than 3,000 fans are expected tonight, and John Deere Employees Night boasts ticket pre-sales of about 7,000 for Saturday night.
The Mallards' three largest crowds since returning to action in 2009 are 7,766 (Oct. 24, 2009), 6,737 (March 20, 2010) and 5,989 (March 24, 2012).
The Flock's biggest back-to-back games since the demise of the Triple-A QC Flames was a combined 10,395 last Jan. 13-14.
QC's average attendance so far this season is 2,410.
"It's an exciting weekend for us," said Bob McNamara, the Mallards new president. "The jersey auction night is a long-time staple of this franchise. And, people better get here early Saturday to beat the traffic."
In honor of the QC Convention & Visitors Bureau's annual "Be a tourist in your own backyard" promotion, the Mallards are offering free kids' tickets with the purchase of an adult ticket to either game.
The concession stand also offers specials tonight ($1 hot dogs and $1 beers) and Saturday (a free bag of popcorn to each fan).