All season long, the Kansas City Mavericks have struggled during the penalty kill.
It was more of the same Friday night as the Wichita Thunder converted on four of five power plays in a 6-2 rout at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Coming in, the Mavericks were ranked 22nd in the ECHL with a 78.6 percent rate stopping an opponent’s power play.
Head coach John-Scott Dickson was furious about the defensive effort from his team and said there could be a lineup change coming soon.
“No one is blocking shots,” said Dickson, whose team is giving up 4.44 goals per game. “At the same time, we made some adjustments after the first period. We know they like to shoot up high. You have to … force the opponent down. When they got the shots through, we weren’t blocking them.
“Guys are too comfortable. Whoever is in the lineup tomorrow, it will be like a job interview. They have one game. Things are going to shake down this weekend if guys don’t want to play to their strengths.”
At the 9:33 mark of the first period, Wichita’s Dyson Stevenson scored a power-play goal, knocking in a rebound off the boards for a 1-0 lead.
The Mavs (4-5-0-0) put themselves in a bad position immediately after the goal when Darren Nowick was called for slashing, giving the Thunder another power play. Just a few seconds later, Mark McMillan was able to put one inside the left post for a 2-0 advantage.
Wichita took a 3-0 lead when Greg Chase scored than 2 minutes into the second period when he caught Mavericks goaltender Mason McDonald out of position.
The Mavericks finally answered when Eric Freschi took a nice diagonal pass from Shawn Pauly and flicked one past Shane Starrett on a backhand shot to make it 3-1 at the 2:28 mark.
With 12:25 left in the second, Pauly came in from the left wing, deked Starrett and flicked in a backhanded shot between the goalie’s legs to cut the Wichita lead to one.
“We caught them on an odd-man rush,” said Pauly, who scored his first goal of the season. “I was looking for a pass. Their defense took away a lot of options, but lucky I was able to get around it.”
But as the Mavericks have done through nine games, they struggled during the penalty kill, quashing their chances of a comeback. Following a tripping call on Nowick, Wichita defender Travis Brown scored from the right point to make it 4-2 with 8:01 left in the second.
Mavericks forward Hunter Smith was called for tripping later in the period and Istvan Sofron put in a loose puck in front of the goal to give Wichita a commanding 5-2 edge with 5:04 remaining in the second, making the Thunder 4-for-4 on the power play at that point.
The Mavericks successfully got through a penalty kill unscathed in the third, but Thunder forward Travis Ewanyk capped the scoring with a goal with 8 seconds left.
For the second game in a row, Starrett, who is fourth the league in goals against average (2.13), stymied the Mavericks by saving 40 of 42 shots.
“He’s doing a great job of being positionally sound, so we have to find a way to get him moving a little bit more,” Pauly said. “We could try to get a little more traffic in front of him and put more bodies at the net. That’s all we can do.”