Mallards Fire Ruskowski

Jan 20, 2017

New interim head coach Phil Axtell, with team president Bob McNamara looking on.
Credit WVIK News / WVIK News

With a weak record and worried about making the playoffs, the Quad City Mallards have made a major change in personnel. Friday coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski was fired, and replaced by his assistant Phil Axtell.

Halfway through the season, and with the all-star break just over, team president Bob McNamara says the Mallards are still in contention for the playoffs, but they've lost 6 of their last seven games. 

"I felt like we're in a position to get into the playoffs today, and it gives the new person an opportunity to maintain and move up in the standings."

He says their goal is to win another championship, and changing coaches now is a way "to move in that direction."

Axtell played one season for the Mallards, and returned in 2014 to serve as assistant to Ruskowski. 

"The system won't be much different - I mean you're not going to re-invent the wheel. Hockey's hockey and just execute. Maybe a different voice and a change of scenery and they'll respond a little better."

 After learning of his promotion only Friday morning, Axtell faces a three-game weekend - against Missouri Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon. 

The Mallards are now in 4th place in the ECHL's Central Division with a record of 19 wins and 16 losses.