Missouri Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson felt a surreal calm Sunday afternoon at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena when his team was down 2-0 early in the first period to the visiting Tulsa Oilers.
“I don’t know, I just felt like we were going to come back – come back strong – and get a win,” said Dickson, whose Mavericks scored seven unanswered goals and went on to claim a 7-2 victory. “It was great to see the way the guys reacted. It wasn’t the best start, but it was a great finish.”
The win was Missouri's fifth in a row over Tulsa and improved its record to 28-24-2-5. The Mavericks have 63 points on the season and trail fifth-place Utah (65) and fourth-place Alaska (69) in the ECHL’s Mountain Division. The top four teams from each division advance to postseason play.
“Every game, every series, from here on out is a playoff series for us,” Dickson added. “We need to start putting some wins together if we’re going to make the playoffs.”
The Mavericks can continue their winning ways at 7:05 tonight when they host the Wichita Thunder.
Former Maverick Garrett Ladd opened the scoring Sunday by burying a one-timer at 2:46 to put Tulsa ahead. Adam Pleskach followed with a goal to make the score 2-0, but the rest of the night belonged to Missouri.
The Mavericks regrouped and answered with a pair of first-period goals.
Dan Correale scored a power play goal at 9:21 to put Missouri on the board, and Dane Fox followed by rifling home a feed from Matt Robertson on a 2-on-1 breakaway at the 13:49 mark.
Missouri gained control with a two-goal outburst early in the second. Correale netted his second of the game just 1:37 into the period with a backhand shot while falling down.
“Not sure how that one went in, but I’ll take it,” Correale said. “We’ve lost some big-time scoring punch, so it’s up to the guys who are still here to get it done. We know what to expect with Robo (Josh Robinson) or (Stephon) Williams in the net and we have to support them.”
Justin Selman's unassisted strike at 4:36 extended Missouri's lead to 4-2.
Missouri scored three goals in the first 6:05 of the third period and raced to the 7-2 lead. Fox opened up the floodgates at 2:27 wth his second of the game and 28th of the season. It was the third assist of the game from new player Conner Bleackley, who was assigned by the St. Louis Blues over the weekend (see below for more).
“This was a big win, especially after a tough loss Friday night (to Mountain Division rival Allen),” Fox said. “You have a lot of determined players in that locker room who are determined to make a playoff push. We think we can get it done, and we played like that tonight.”
Just 44 seconds after Fox’s goal, Stephen Silas added his first professional goal.
It was the sixth goal of the night, which meant every fan in the arena received free hamburgers.
“I’m new here, but when we scored the other night, the fans started chanting ‘Burgers! Burgers!’” Silas said, grinning. “But I knew something was going on. I’m happy I could oblige tonight. We all like a good hamburger.”
Shawn Pauly capped the outburst with his fifth of the season at 6:05.
“Not a burger goal,” quipped Pauly, “but at least I scored.”
Josh Robinson’s 33-save effort helped him pick up his 11th win of the season.
“We’ll have an optional skate Monday and be ready for Wichita on Tuesday,” Dickson said. “We have a lot of new faces in the locker room and the guys are welcoming the new players, making them feel at home, like they are part of the team. We’re a tight group, and that’s going to play a big role as we make this playoff run.”
FORMER FIRST-ROUND PICK JOINS MAVS: The Mavericks received Bleackley, a former first-round NHL draft pick, on Saturday on reassignment by the Blues from the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves.
The 21-year-old forward didn’t disappoint with three assists in his first game with Missouri. Bleackley was taken in the first round (No. 23 overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2014 NHL Draft. He did not sign with the Avalanche and re-entered the draft in 2016, when he was taken in the fifth round (No. 144 overall) by St. Louis.
Bleackley posted 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 44 games with the Wolves. A rookie out of the Western Hockey League, Bleackley scored his first professional goal on Jan. 16 against Rockford. His first pro points were a two-assist night on Nov. 9 at Milwaukee.
Bleackley, a High River, Alberta, native, played all five of his WHL seasons with the Red Deer Rebels. He skated as the Rebels' captain for two seasons (2013-14, 2014-15) and posted 183 points (80 goals, 103 assists) in 259 games over his junior career.