Shawn Pauly started the season in the stands, but quickly discovered that hard work and attention pays off.
The Kansas City Mavericks forward rewarded a sold-out crowd of 5,850 at the second annual Kids Day Game at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena with the first hat trick of his professional career as the Mavericks dominated all phases to claim a 5-2 win over the Tulsa Oilers to pick up their first home victory of the season.
“Shawn wasn’t on the roster at the start of the season, and it’s always interesting to see how guys respond to that,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said after his team downed the 5-4-2-2 Oilers for the second time this season. “Shawn responded the way you want to see a player respond – he worked hard, paid attention to what we were telling him, and now he’s one of the most valuable and versatile players on the team. He could play any position and he had the big game today to help us get that first home win.
“It’s great we could get it in front of a big crowd of school kids, who really created a great atmosphere for our guys.”
School kids from many metro area elementary, middle and high schools filled the arena as Pauly kicked things off with a quick goal, scoring at 2:23 of the first period on assists from Hunter Smith and Justin Breton.
Pauly then scored the second goal of the game at 6:55, picking up the team’s first power-play goal at home this season on assists from Bryce Aneloski and Matt Robertson.
Nate Widman completed a dominating first period with his first goal of the season off feeds from Mike McMurtry and Robertson to make it 3-0.
“Getting a big lead like that, with an electric atmosphere with all the kids here, made it a special morning,” said rookie goaltender Tyler Parsons, who returned to action after missing two games with a minor hand injury. “This was a great morning, a great game. The defense rose to the occasion and the offense took care of business too.”
Hunter Smith made it 4-0 on assists from Pauly and Breton at 6:59 of the second period.
Joey Sides scored at 10:19 of the second period and Alexandre Ranger scored at 3:12 of the third to cut the Mavericks’ lead to 4-2.
Pauly got his hat trick and fourth goal of the season at 17:10 of the third period on an assist from Smith. Many of the savvy students threw their hats onto the ice to honor the young Mavericks forward.
“This is my first hat trick as a pro and it feels pretty good,” said Pauly, who received a rousing ovation from his teammates as he walked into the postgame locker room. “The energy out there was incredible.
“No one really knows what to expect at a morning game, and this place was sold out and was rocking. It’s great to get the first win at home and now, we have to start putting some wins together.”
As Pauly visited with the media following the game, team owner Lamar Hunt Jr. and Dickson both congratulated him and flicked the bill of his Mavericks baseball camp.
The victory broke a three-game losing streak for the 5-6-0-0 Mavericks, who travel to Wichita today for a 7:05 p.m. game. The Thunder are 3-0 against the Mavericks this season.
“If we keep playing like we did today, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Pauly said. “We’ve been struggling a little bit lately. Now, we can use this to start a winning streak.”
• Emma Thiessen, a sixth grader at Grain Valley North Middle School, served as the in-game co-host, along with Lydia. Thiessen is the daughter of Mavericks president and general manager Brent Thiessen.
“I was proud of Emma,” Thiessen said. “You know, we did this last year and had the arena about half full. I can’t say enough good things about our sales staff because we sold every seat today and I think all the kids and their teachers had a great time.”