Originally Posted Online: March 17, 2013, 11:08 pm
Last Updated: March 18, 2013, 2:29 am

Mallards celebrate 'St. Patrik's Day'

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Quad City Mallards' Mike Hellyer takes a shot toward Bloomington Blaze goalie Ross MacKinnon with Blaze's Kyle Bochek defending in the second period Friday, March 15, 2013.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Quad City Mallard's Mickey Lang (14) slips past fallen Blaze player Brett Lutes (19) in the second period Friday March 15, 2013.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Quad City Mallard's Mickey Lang (14) fires a shot off past Blaze's Brett Lutes (19) and Kyle Bochek (17) during the second period Friday March 15, 2013.

Patrik Levesque hails from Trois-Rivieres, a town of 130,000 people located between Montreal and Quebec in Canada.

However, the Quad City Mallards forward came away from Sunday's 6-0 St. Patrick's Day celebration over Missouri convinced he's also a favorite son of the Emerald Isle.

"My name's in the holiday, so there's got to be a little percentage of me that's Irish,'' Levesque joked through his thick French-Canadian accent after a two-goal, three-point effort to lead the onslaught at Moline's i wireless Center.

John Murray made Missouri feel green with envy, too, stopping 35 shots for his second shutout, and fourth overall this season by a Mallards goalie.

Good fortune shined on the Flock, too, with Denver's 7-1 win at Bloomington (28-32-2, 58 points) helping the Mallards (30-26-6, 66 points) move within a point of clinching a CHL playoff spot.

"To be honest, right now I'm not looking at that one point,'' Murray said. "I'm looking at who's in front of us. Who can we catch?''

That's Missouri, with Mavericks coach Scott Hillman punctuating his club's third blowout loss in the last four meetings with QC by getting ejected for tossing his team's water bottles on the ice early in the third period to protest Levesque's first goal and QC's fourth score of the game.

The combined score of 21-6 these last two weekends have allowed the Mallards to move within four points of the fifth-place Mavericks (32-24-6, 70 points) with four regular-season games remaining for both squads.

By rebounding from Saturday's 3-1 setback at Missouri, the Mallards moved back into a sixth-place tie with Denver (29-26-8, 66 points), which visits the i-wi Tuesday. Those two leapfrogged idle Arizona (29-27-7, 65 points) in the standings.

"We're the hot team right now, so I think the other teams might be starting to get scared of us,'' Levesque said. "This was a great (bounce) back win after a loss at Missouri, to show them it won't happen often with us.

"We got home at 4 a.m. (from Missouri) and 12 hours later we were back on the ice. It's a great way to end the weekend with a huge win like that. We're ready for the playoffs now.''

None more so than Levesque, a QC-resident now, with his second tour of Mallards duty marked by a month-long, injured reserve list stint that ended over the weekend.

"I've had a couple of injuries all year and played on them,'' Levesque said. "But, (the month away) might be a good thing that happened. I was able to heal a little bit so I'm able to perform at a higher level now at playoff time.''

Levesque had plenty of company Sunday despite QC playing for the seventh time in a withering 10-day stretch.

"Our defense moved the puck as well as I've seen them move it all season,'' QC coach Terry Ruskowski said after the Flock's seventh win in nine March games. "(Saturday) it seemed we had dead legs, but (Sunday) we came at them with speed. But then, good passing will save you about two miles of extra skating.''

Murray also pointed to the line led by Jason Dixon for again shutting down CHL scoring leader Sebastien Thinel. The CHL MVP candidate has one goal and two points in the last four meetings with the Mallards.

``Missouri released (Dixon) at the beginning of the year,'' Murray said, ``but after playing with him last season (in Rio Grande Valley with Ruskowski), I'd pick him over every other guy in this league, because of the heart he has and the way he battles at both ends. You know he's going to leave it all out on the ice. When it comes to the playoffs, those are the guys that win.''

Mickey Lang (2 points) Mike Hellyer (2 points) and Matt Boyd scored QC's goals before Levesque's third-period two-step.

Levesque's nifty behind-the-net pass set up Lang's lonely first-period goal, his 37th score of the season, second-best in the league.

Obi Abuda added a late goal to cap QC's shorthanded victory. 

Mike Stinziani (Saturday head injury) and Jason Kostadine (two-game suspension) both were forced to miss the contest.

Dixon and Darren McMillan also added two assists for QC.