The most obvious struggles were on the first line as Troy Schwab and Brad Smyth tried to adjust to Mikael Bedard, who replaced top-scorer AJ Gale—currently playing with the Monsters—on the left wing. Fortunately, other players ignited their own offense to get the Cutthroats on the board.
After a scoreless first, rookie Jeff Neitenbach opened up things up with a beauty of a shot, taking the pass from Chris Greene, moving into the slot, and sending a wrister past Mallards's goalie John Murray early in the second. About midway through the period, Gabe Gauthier added to Denver's lead by knocking one home in the midst of a scrum. Dirty goals count as much as the pretty ones.
Just a few minutes later, though, the Mallards got one of their own as Mike Stinziani picked up a rebound and slid it past Kieran Millan who, up to this point, had been tracking the puck extremely well. The teams went into the second intermission with the Cutthroats leading 2-1.
Quad City turned up the heat in the third, capitalizing on multiple penalties and lackluster play by the Fish. Quad City's Mickey Lang jumped on a loose puck and beat Millan top shelf glove side to tie it up with a short-handed goal.
Cutthroats answered back just a few minutes later as Schwab and Smyth connected midway through the third to put the Fish back on top. Taking the pass at the blueline, Schwab did a nice little toe drag, Murray bit, and the puck hit twine. Shortly after, Mallard's defenseman Bob Preece let frustration get the best of him as he cross-checked Mario Boilard to the face, giving himself a five minute major and game misconduct for his troubles.
Anthony Perdicaro got another shortie to knot the game up at three, and a diving Ben Wilson stopped a breakaway on another short-handed chance. Fish were clearly wishing they could decline penalties at this point. The clock wound down, and the teams went into OT with three goals apiece.
Each team got a couple of decent chances in OT, but it took 11 rounds in the shoot out to decide it. Luke Fulghum scored for the Cutthroats, but Perdicaro scored twice for the Mallards to take the game.
As before, head coach Derek Armstrong lamented the lack of teamwork from his players. "We're not working as a team right now. We're not doing the little details to sacrifice anymore. We're all individuals; we all want our points." He commented on the fact the team is currently missing ten key players; he's happy they're getting their opportunities to play at higher levels of hockey, but he acknowledges that it's certainly hurting the team's performance.
3. Kieran Millan
2. John Murray
1. Anthony Perdicaro