Kansas City Mavericks head coach John Scott-Dickson said there are a couple of signs that his team looks at on the way out of the locker room at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena before a game.
Both of them read “Grit” and one of those signs has an exclamation point at the end.
His Mavericks appeared to display a lot of grit during a 4-3 shootout home win over the Tulsa Oilers Sunday night.
“They are not just words, it’s stuff I believe in, and something I live by,” Dickson said after his team improved to 18-16-0-1. “When we play that style of game, it wears on other teams. We are always coming and it wears teams down. I think if we continue to play that way, we’ll find success.”
Mavericks forward Eric Freschi said that grit doesn’t just mean the physical kind.
“When some guys think of grit, they think about more of a physical description like being tough and hitting guys and stuff. I think it’s more mental than physical,” he said. “We definitely showed that mental side these last three games, coming back from deficits.”
The Mavericks seemed well on the way to their 18th win of the season when they overcame a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead at the 12:49 mark of the third period following a goal by Jared VanWormer on assists from Bryce Aneloski and Patch Alber.
But the Oilers stopped a game-winning celebration at the end of regulation when Tulsa's Kale Kessy scored with 5.6 seconds left when his team pulled its goaltender for a sixth attacker.
It was after that point when recently acquired goaltender Kent Patterson looked like he had plenty of grit.
After he gave up the goal late in regulation, the 28-year-old got some redemption. Following a scoreless overtime, He forced a pair of attempts to go wide of the net in a shootout that Kansas City won 2-1, giving the Mavericks the 4-3 victory.
“You really just have to forget about it and have a short-term memory,” Patterson said of surrendering the game-tying goal. “We have to play another 5 minutes. It doesn’t matter what happened. It is what it is. The guys made my job easy by keeping the puck away from our goal.”
With goaltender Mason McDonald being called up to the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat, earlier Sunday morning and 20-year old rookie goalie Tyler Parson still out with a lower body injury, Patterson had to step in during Kansas City's 4-1 loss at Tulsa Saturday and he also had to man the net Sunday.
Not having their two young, talented goalies could make things difficult for the Mavericks in the short term. However, Patterson came up big during the shootout while Jordan Kwas and Matt Robertson made their shots to give Kansas City the 2-1 edge.
Patterson signed with Kansas City Dec. 19 and made his debut Saturday and stopped 36 of 40 shots that night in defeat. The veteran goaltender saved 27 of 30 shots Sunday.
“He’s a veteran guy, so I thought he was steady in there,” Dickson said. “He’s been in this league, he’s been in the CHL and he’s been in big games. He had a big shootout win. I thought he did well in.”
After a scoreless first period Sunday, Tulsa opened the scoring during a 2-on-1 rush in the second period. Sampair caught the Mavericks flat-footed and found Garrett Ladd right in front of the Mavericks' net with a centering pass. Ladd put the shot away for a 1-0 lead.
Tulsa then took advantage of a power play. With 2 seconds left on the Oilers' man advantage, Ryan Tesink redirected a shot from Eric Drapluk past Patterson's glove to make it 2-0 at the 11:34 mark in the second.
The Mavericks finally answered with their own power play goal with 33.9 seconds left in the second. Kwas buried a shot from the backside of the faceoff circle after a crossing pass from Dan Correale to narrow the gap to 2-1. The score came during a delayed penalty call on Tulsa right as their penalty kill expired.
“He’s playing well,” Dickson said of Kwas. “We joke a little bit and say maybe he’s in shape now (after recovering from injuries). He has the ability to make plays … but now we need him to be a guy that’s not trying to do too much.
The Mavericks tied it at the 9:57 mark in the third when a shot from Justin Breton deflected off the chest protector of Oilers goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Freschi, who had a plus-10 rating, nine assists and two goals over his last four games, was there to put in the rebound.
“I am just keeping my nose to the grindstone, nothing special,” Freschi said of his recent hot streak.
VanWormer put in the go-ahead score a few minutes later. VanWormer, who scored his seventh goal of the season, redirected the puck into the net on a pass sent his way by defenseman Bryce Aneloski to give the Mavericks the lead.
The Mavericks dominated overtime, outshooting the Oilers 4-0, but were unable to score, prompting the shootout.
In Saturday’s game, Mark Cooper scored the Mavericks’ lone goal at 2:20 of the third period to cut the deficit to 3-1, but that was all the Mavericks could muster.
With Sunday’s win, the Mavericks have won four of their last five. They are fourth in the ECHL’s Central Division with 37 points, two behind third-place Cincinnati (19-11-1-0) and six behind first-place Toledo (20-9-2-1).
FORMER MAVERICK CALLED TO NHL: Former Mavericks forward Tanner Fritz became the fourth Maverick to receive a NHL call-up when the New York Islanders brought him up Monday.
While Fritz is the fourth Maverick to reach the pinnacle of the sport, he is the first to begin his professional career in Kansas City and go on to the NHL.
Fritz, 26, played in 43 games for the Mavericks during the 2015-16 Brabham Cup-winning season, totaling 33 points on 10 goals and 23 assists with a plus-13 rating.
He was signed to an AHL deal with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers prior to last season and he posted 42 points on 19 goals and 23 assists in 63 games played. So far this season he has 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points in 29 games for Bridgeport Sound.
His first game is expected to be today when the Islanders host the Boston Bruins at 6 p.m. (CST).