Sports & Recreation
Astros Farm System Ranked Tops In Baseball PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Marco LaNave   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:17 Released 2014 Rankings This Morning


HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros minor league system has been ranked as the best in baseball this morning by’s Keith Law.  The top three clubs in Law’s rankings are as follows:  

1. Houston Astros

2. Minnesota Twins

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Astros minor league clubs experienced a great deal of success in 2013, with all six domestic teams making the postseason, with two winning championships. Over the past two seasons (2012-13), the combined record of the Astros minor league clubs is tops in baseball. This represents a dramatic turnaround as the Astros minor league clubs had the worst combined record in baseball in both 2010 and 2011.

When General Manager Jeff Luhnow was hired by the Astros in December of 2011, one of the main objectives of the organization was to build a top farm system that would lead to sustained success on the Major League level in the future.

“We have been focused on developing the best young talent in baseball in the past few years,” Luhnow said.   “Our scouts, coaches, trainers and front office should be proud of the talent we have accumulated.  The next step is to turn that into wins for the Houston Astros.”

In addition to the success of the minor league clubs, the Astros top prospects have also been recognized nationally by several outlets. Seven prospects were included in’s Top 100 list, released last week: Carlos Correa (#8), Mark Appel (#17), George Springer (#21) Jon Singleton (#50), Lance McCullers Jr. (#52), Mike Foltynewicz (#54) and Delino DeShields, Jr. (#66). 

Five prospects were included on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 list, also released last week: Correa (#5),  Springer (#20), Appel (#21), Foltynewicz (#43) and Singleton (#57).

Last year, Law and other outlets ranked the St. Louis Cardinals as having the top minor league system. Prior to joining the Astros, Luhnow served as the vice president of scouting and player development for St. Louis for several seasons. Sixteen players on the 2013 NL Champion Cardinals playoff roster were drafted while Luhnow was VP of scouting and player development.


News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Brian Lavelle   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 14:28
MOLINE, Ill. (January 27, 2014) – Goaltender Thomas Heemskerk and defenseman Nicholas Rioux have returned to the Quad City Mallards from the American Hockey League and goaltender Nick Niedert has been waived, the Mallards announced today.

Heemskerk, 23, rejoins the Mallards from the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, with whom Heemskerk signed a professional tryout agreement on January 15.  The 6’ 0”, 210-pound Chilliwack, British Columbia native served as back-up in a half dozen games without seeing any action for the Sharks.  With the Mallards, Heemskerk has suffered just one regulation loss this season, going 9-1-4 in 15 games.  Heemskerk ranks second in the Central Hockey League in goals against average (2.45) and save percentage (.920).  He is unbeaten in regulation in his last five CHL games, a stretch during which he has posted a 4-0-1 record, a 1.57 goals against average, a .944 save percentage and two shutouts.

His tour with the Sharks was Heemskerk’s third AHL call-up this season.  The third year netminder joined the Iowa Wild for a pair of stints as a back-up earlier in the campaign.  Heemskerk is no stranger to Worcester, having seen action for the Sharks each of the last two seasons.  Over two games last year with the San Jose Sharks’ top affiliate, Heemskerk turned aside 27 of the 29 shots he faced in 67 minutes, turning in a 1.79 goals against average and a .931 save percentage.  In four games with Worcester in 2011-12, he went 0-1-0 with a 2.14 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

Heemskerk spent the bulk of his first two seasons in the ECHL.  Last year he went 14-17-3 with a 3.10 goals against average and a .906 save percentage in 38 games with the San Francisco Bulls.  Heemskerk began his professional career in 2011-12 with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder, for whom he posted a record of 13-12-0 along with a 3.27 goals against average and a .893 save percentage in 25 games.

Rioux, 27, comes back to the Mallards after a second successive stint with Iowa.  The Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, product was first signed to a P.T.O. by the Wild on January 6, briefly returned to the Mallards last Monday and last Tuesday was called up to Iowa for a second time.  In all, he played six games for the Wild during which he went without a point and registered a plus/minus rating of +1.

Rioux has scored twice and totaled 12 points while posting a plus/minus of +11 in 28 games with the Mallards this season.

Rioux joined the Mallards after spending last year with the CHL’s Bloomington Blaze, for whom he scored seven goals and totaled 27 points while turning in a plus/minus rating of +3.  The 6’ 1”, 205-pound blue liner played in each of the Blaze’s 66 regular season games and, before moving up to Iowa, had missed just a single CHL game over his first three professional campaigns.

This season is Rioux’s second under Mallards coach and general manager Terry Ruskowski.  Rioux first skated for Ruskowski as a rookie with the CHL’s Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in 2011-12.  Rioux scored five times, produced 21 points and posted a plus/minus rating of +5 in 65 games with the Killer Bees.

The 31-year old Niedert, who signed with the Mallards for the second time this season when Heemskerk departed for Worcester, made his debut for the club on January 17 in Wichita, making eight saves and giving up two goals after entering what proved to a 7-1 Mallard loss to the Thunder at the beginning of the third period.  Niedert has spent most of the season with the Danville Dashers of the Federal Hockey League while also tending goal in one ECHL game for the Utah Grizzlies this year.  The.  The 5’ 8”, 185-pound native of Hudson, Iowa, has gone 3-9-1 with a 5.05 goals against average and a .874 save percentage in 13 games with the Dashers.

Niedert played for five teams in four leagues last season- the Gwinnett Gladiators and Reading Royals of the ECHL, the Bloomington Blaze of the CHL, the August RiverHawks of the Southern Professional Hockey League and the Danbury Whalers of the FHL.  Over the course of his nine-year career, Niedert has played for 23 teams in nine different leagues after competing for five teams over three seasons of junior hockey.  He first wore the Mallards’ colors during the club’s 2011 training camp.

The Mallards next play at home Friday night at 7:05 p.m. against the Tulsa Oilers.  Friday is another $1 Dog/$1 Beer Night presented by 97X.  $1 hot dogs and beers will be available at iWireless Center concession stands during each of the Mallards’ 11 Friday night home games this season.

Tickets for Friday night’s game and all Mallards regular season home games can be purchased at the iWireless Center ticket office, Ticketmaster outlets, through or through Ticketmaster charge-by-phone toll free at 1-800-745-3000.  The ticket office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on game days from 10:00 a.m. until the start of the second period.

News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Brian Lavelle   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 14:26

Friday, January 31, 7:05 p.m.
iWireless Center, Moline
Tulsa Oilers vs. Quad City Mallards

Saturday, February 1, 7:05 p.m.

Independence Events Center, Independence
Quad City Mallards vs. Missouri Mavericks

Thursday, January 23
Quad City 4 Brampton 1


Friday, January 24

Quad City 3 Brampton 0

Sunday, January 26
Brampton 4 Quad City 3 (OT)

Quad City
18-9-8, 44 points
6th place
Coach: Terry Ruskowski

19-21-3, 41 points

7th place
Coach: Bruce Ramsay


24-11-2, 50 points
3rd place
Coach: Scott Hillman

Last Week
The Mallards went 2-0-1 in Brampton last weekend.  The Mallards came up just short in their bid to win each of their six regular season road games against the Beast, finishing 5-0-1 at the Powerade Centre after falling in overtime Sunday.



The Mallards earned five of six available points in Brampton after having gone 0-2-2 in their prior four games.

The Mallards are just one point behind the fifth place Beast, on whom they have seven games in hand.


Playing the Percentages
The Mallards, who have played fewer games (35) than any other CHL club, have the league’s fourth best winning percentage (.629).


While the Mallards rank in the top half of the league in goal scoring- fifth at 3.3 goals per game- no Mallard ranks in the top 20 in the CHL in point scoring.


On the Road
In the wake of their successes in Brampton, the Mallards are now 7-1-1 in their last nine road games.

Trouble at Home

The Mallards have gone without a win (0-2-2) in their last four home games- their longest home winless streak this year.

Ty Rimmer made 35 saves while shutting out the Beast last Friday. Rimmer came close to posting shutouts on back-to-back nights, stopping 69 of 70 shots over the first two games of the Mallards’ series in Brampton.  Last Thursday he held the Beast off the scoreboard until Rob Collins scored with just two minutes and seven seconds left in the third period.  Last Friday’s blanking of Brampton was also the second of rookie Rimmer’s career- he registered his first shutout on December 13 when he stopped 48 shots in a 2-0 win over the Rush in Rapid City- and the Mallards’ fourth this season.  Rimmer posted a 1.63 goals against average and a .954 save percentage over the Mallards’ three games in Brampton.


Workin’ Overtime
The Mallards are 1-3 in games deciding in overtime.  Each of those four sudden death decisions came against Brampton.  The Mallards- who have gone 1-5 in shootouts- are 2-8 in games that last longer than 60 minutes.

Mallard captain Darren McMillan Friday night played his five hundredth career game.  Now in his ninth season, the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, native has scored 35 goals, picked up 148 assists and totaled 183 points over the course of his career.  McMillan has now played 243 games for the Mallards over the last five seasons.

Vladimir Nikiforov yesterday played his three hundredth career game.  Nikiforov has recorded 62 goals, 113 assists, and 175 points over five professional seasons.  Nikiforov returned to the United States with the Mallards this season after playing in Russia with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl last year.  Before heading across the Atlantic, he spent his first three professional campaigns skating for six teams in four leagues.


Forward Justin Fox yesterday scored his first Mallard goal since joining the team January 15.

Rapid Fire

Mike Stinziani scored eight seconds into the second period Friday night.  That goal was the Mallards’ fastest from the start of a period this season.

Leading the Way
Linemates Jeff Lee (1-4-5) and Thomas Frazee (2-2-4) recorded at least a point apiece in each of the Mallards’ three games in Brampton and were the club’s top two point scorers in the series.

Lee is tied for tenth in +/- (+15)…Mike Hellyer is tied for fourth in game winning goals (5)…Among rookies, Frazee is tied for third in points (24) and assists (15) and ranks fifth in goals (9)...Thomas Heemskerk ranks second in goals against average (2.45) and save percentage (.920)…Rimmer ranks eighth in goals against average (2.82) and save percentage (.910).


Jim McKenzie has recorded 98 career assists… McMillan has collected 97 career CHL assists.

Special Teams
While the Mallards rank last in the CHL in power play efficiency (10.9 percent), they have scored on the man advantage in each of their last two games.  Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel Friday night halted the Mallards’ 0-for-21 power play drought; Matt Duffy’s third period 5-on-3 goal forced yesterday’s game to overtime.  The Mallards went 12-for-12 on the penalty kill in their three games in Brampton.  The Mallards rank sixth in penalty killing (82.8 percent) and third in shorthanded goals (6).

Head to Head

The Mallards and Oilers have split their first two meetings.  The Mallards routed Tulsa 9-3 November 30 at the iWireless Center before falling to the Oilers on the road 5-2 on December 20.  Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach (0-5-5) and Ben Gordon 1-4-5) are the top point producers in the season series.  Gergo Nagy (1-3-4) and Frazee (0-4-4) have been the most productive Mallards over the first two games between the clubs.  The Mallards and Oilers will conclude their four-game season series February 21 in Tulsa.  All-time, the Mallards have gone 7-6-0 overall against Oilers and have gone 5-3-0 at home against Tulsa…After playing just one of their first 36 games against Missouri, the Mallards will play nine of their final 30 tilts against the Mavericks.  The Mavs won the season series opener 5-4 in a shootout on November 27 at the Independence Events Center.  Since entering the CHL in 2010, the Mallards have gone 14-12-3 against the Mavericks and have posted a record of 9-6-1 in Independence.

Ins and Outs
Heemskerk returned to the Mallards today from the American Hockey League’s Worcester Sharks after signing a professional tryout agreement with Worcester January 15…Defenseman Nicholas Rioux rejoined the Mallards today from the AHL’s Iowa Wild after signing a PTO with Iowa last Tuesday…Goaltender Nick Niedert was waived today…Forward Nikiforov (upper body injury) returned to the active roster from seven day injured reserve last Tuesday.  Both Nikiforov and defenseman Duffy (illness) returned to action last Thursday after missing the Mallards’ prior game January 17 in Wichita.


Friday, January 31, 7:05 p.m.- Mallards vs. Tulsa Oilers
$1 Dog/$1 Beer Friday Presented by 97X
This Friday is another $1 Dog/$1 Beer Night presented by 97X. $1 hot dogs and $1 beers are available at iWireless Center concession stands during each of the Mallards’ 11 Friday night home games this season.

Mallards Bud Light Ice Girls/Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Bar/MetroLINK
Mallards Bud Light Ice Girls this Friday will be on hand to meet fans at Kavanaugh's Hilltop Bar in Rock Island starting at 5:30 p.m. and then will ride MetroLINK with fans to Friday night’s game at the iWireless Center.

Fox Sports Radio 1230 is the radio home of Mallards Hockey Presented by Genesis Power Sports Performance.  Mallards games broadcast on AM 1230 also stream live online at  A limited number of Mallards games- including this Saturday’s tilt- will not air on Fox Sports Radio 1230 due to conflicts with University of Illinois basketball and football and Green Bay Packer football.  Free audio webcasts of games that do not air on AM 1230 are available at  CHL-TV pay-per-view video webcasts of all Mallards games are also available at  For a full Mallards broadcast/webcast schedule, go to

Single Game Tickets
Single game tickets for all Mallards regular season contests are now available.  Fans can contact the Mallards at (309) 277-1364 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information about tickets.  Single game tickets are also available at the i wireless Center box office, at Ticketmaster outlets, through or through Ticketmaster charge-by-phone toll free.  The box office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on game days from 10:00 a.m. until the start of the second period.

Group Tickets
Groups of at least ten receive savings off the walk-up price and a host of group benefits.  Mallards group tickets are a great fit for youth organizations, friends, co-workers, family groups, religious groups, school functions and business events.  For more group ticket information, fans can contact the Mallards at (309) 277-1364 or

–### Quad City Mallards ### –

Preserve the Allure of the Iowa State Fair PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Jenna Beary   
Monday, 27 January 2014 10:26

DES MOINES, IA (01/27/2014)(readMedia)-- From ferris wheels, food on a stick and free entertainment, to premier livestock events, expansive art exhibits and the country's largest state fair food department, the Iowa State Fair has something for everyone. This year, Iowans can show their love for the Iowa State Fair on their tax returns and help the Fair continue to preserve the allure of the historic Fairgrounds.

Look for the State Fairgrounds Renovation Check Off on line 58b of Iowa Tax Form 1040 or on line 14 of Iowa Tax Form 1040A and check off $1 (or more!) to help preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Your gift is either deducted from your refund or added to the amount due. Contributions to the Corndog Checkoff are fully tax-deductible.

"The Corndog Checkoff is a great and easy way for Iowans to support the Iowa State Fair. The Iowa State Fair would not be what it is today without the Corndog Checkoff. Thank you to thousands of Iowans who have supported the Corndog Checkoff in the past and we hope you will consider doing so again this year to preserve this great institution for future generations," said Blue Ribbon Foundation Executive Director Peter Cownie.

Every dollar donated to the Checkoff is directly allocated to capital improvements. The Corndog Checkoff has raised over $1.7 million, and has supplemented restoration projects from the Grandstand to the newly air conditioned Cultural Center. In addition, funds generated by the Checkoff have helped improve the campgrounds, parking areas, sidewalks and restrooms.

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has generated over $95 million for renovations and improvements to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. For more information on the Corndog Tax Checkoff, please contact the Blue Ribbon Foundation at (800) 450-3732 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Mallards Fall to Beast 4-3 in Overtime Sunday PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Sports & Recreation
Written by Brian Lavelle   
Monday, 27 January 2014 10:10

BRAMPTON, Ontario (January 26, 2014) – Andrew Fournier scored with just 27.8 seconds left in overtime to give the host Brampton Beast a 4-3 win over the Quad City Mallards Sunday.  With the victory- their first in six tries on home ice against the Mallards this season- Brampton (21-18-3, 45 points) moved one point ahead of Quad City (19-9-8) into sole possession of fifth place.

Fournier provided the winner by snapping home a centering pass from Rob Collins, who had a goal and two assists.

The Mallards, who did earn a single point for the sudden death setback, forced overtime when Matt Duffy scored a 5-on-3 power play goal from the left wing circle to even the score at three with 4:51 left in regulation.

The Beast emerged with a 3-2 lead from a ninety second stretch that produced three goals early in the second period.  Collins kick-started the fireworks by breaking a 1-1 deadlock with a one timer from the right wing circle at 2:56 of the second.  Just 46 seconds later the Mallards’ Thomas Frazee scored from the slot to knot the score at two, but Steve Makway’s blast from the high slot would put Brampton back on top only 44 seconds after Frazee’s equalizer.  


Justin Fox gave the Mallards a 1-0 lead from the right wing circle at 4:44 of the first period.  The Beast tied the game when Tylor Michel buried Matt Caruana’s centering pass at 9:13 of the first.

The Mallards next play at home Friday night at 7:05 p.m. against the Tulsa Oilers.  Friday is another $1 Dog/$1 Beer Night presented by 97X.  $1 hot dogs and beers will be available at iWireless Center concession stands during each of the Mallards’ 11 Friday night home games this season.

Tickets for Friday night’s game and all Mallards regular season home games can be purchased at the iWireless Center ticket office, Ticketmaster outlets, through or through Ticketmaster charge-by-phone toll free at 1-800-745-3000.  The ticket office is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on game days from 10:00 a.m. until the start of the second period.

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