David Gilbert scored half of the Bloomington goals for the Blaze's first hat trick of the season in a 6-3 victory at Quad City on Saturday. (Photo by Jakob Blome)
By Greg Halbleib
BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington Blaze were led by a David Gilbert hat trick to their fifth straight victory, a 6-3 decision over the Quad City Mallards on Saturday night at iWireless Center.
The Mallards opened the scoring for the second straight night as Mike Stinziani belted home a rebound with 14:54 remaining in the first period with assists given to Mike Hellyer and Mickey Lang. The Blaze evened the game at 1-1 with 45.2 seconds left before the first intermission when Gilbert converted a pass from Jesse Dudas at the left post, with the second assist handed to Tyler Gron.
The Blaze used four unanswered goals to take an early second period lead, beginning when Jon Booras rifled a shot from the slot stick-side after taking the pass from Kyle Bochek to give the Blaze a 2-1 lead. Gilbert collected a rebound goal at 8:41 of the second period assisted by Bochek to put the Blaze ahead 3-1, and Matthew Larke made it 4-1 when he drilled a power play goal with 9:33 remaining in the second period on assists by Dudas and Booras. The Mallards scored with only 16 seconds remaining before the second intermission when Mickey Lang converted a pass from the left side from Mike Hellyer to cut the Blaze lead to 4-2 at the stoppage.
The Mallards cut the deficit to 4-3 on a Derek Matheson drive from the slot while the Flock was shorthanded with 16:01 left in the third period. Gilbert completed the hat trick on a feed from Gron from the left corner to the doorstep, with the additional assist given to Jared Walker. Dudas sealed the game with an empty net goal with 1:05 remaining.
Pier-Olivier Pelletier picked up the win in goal with 24 saves, while current Oakley Central Hockey League Goaltender of the Week Joe Palmer sustained the loss with 23 saves. The Blaze were 1-of-4 on the power play while the Mallards did not convert any of their five man-advantage opportunities.
The Blaze conclude the weekend series with a rematch in Moline against the Mallards at 4:05 p.m. Sunday. The game can be heard on WJBC.com and CHL-TV at 3:45, and fans are invited to watch the game and all road contests at Gill Street Sports Bar and Restaurant, 3002 Gill Street in Bloomington. The next Blaze home game is Tuesday, November 13 against the league-leading Allen Americans. More information on the Blaze is available by calling 309-434-2980, and by visiting Facebook, Twitter (BLMBlaze) and www.bloomingtonblaze.com.