The Kansas City Mavericks came into Friday’s home game against the Cincinnati Cyclones, rolling, going 7-3 in January and winners of four of their last five games.
But that hot streak came to a screeching halt as Central Division rival Cincinnati dominated the Mavericks 5-1 at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The Mavs were unable to recover from a pair of early goals from Cyclone center Justin Danforth.
For most of the season, Kansas City has battled injuries and has dealt with a handful of players getting promoted to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat. Head coach John-Scott Dickson theorized that might have had something to do with Friday’s blowout loss.
“I am not going to say the guys feel this way, but when you don’t have any extra players, so maybe guys are a little too comfortable,” Dickson said. “Maybe we need to bring in some players so we have that feeling of, ‘Hey, iIf I don’t do what I am supposed to do and play my role and play my game, there is someone behind them hungry to get into the lineup.
“It sounds like an excuse, but with all the injuries and call-ups, we’ve had to play some guys in spots that they are not used to. We practice some of these situations like power plays, but in a game, it’s a little different.”
The Mavericks outshot Cincinnati 35-27, but the Cyclones made the most out of their shot attempts, especially Danforth.
The Cyclones center struck early with a unassisted breakaway goal. He used his speed to get behind the Mavs’ defense and put one past goaltender Chris Nell at the 13:51 mark in the first. Danforth added another one as he got behind the Kansas City defense again and scored right in front of the goal off assists from Eric Knodel and Daniel Mutzito-Bagenda.
“We just had nothing going for us in the first period,” Dickson said. “There were no floor checks established for us and no O-Zone (offensive zone) time for us, which means F1 is in there but no F2. There is no sustained pressure on the walls. I think we controlled that in the second period and most of the third.
“(Danforth) had some speed and we made some mental errors. We had a (defenseman) a little farther up than he should have been. He has speed. If you’re flat-footed, you’re probably not going to catch him.”
After not being able to take advantage of a power play in the first, the Mavs squandered 4 minutes worth of a power play early in the second, including a 5-second interval in which they had a 5-on-3 man advantage.
During those four minutes however, Cincinnati goaltender Jonas Johansson was outstanding during that time as he stopped six shots while on the penalty kill.
Not being able to take advantage of that seemingly took the wind out of the sails for Kansas City. Cincinnati got goals from Alex Kile, who scored right as the Cyclones power play expired, and Justin Vaive, to make it 4-0, with one being assisted by Danforth, who had three points on the night.
Kansas City’s lone goal came at the 16:00 mark in the second. Bryce Aneloski pounded a slapshot off the chest protector of Johansson, but the puck bounced right in front of Mark Cooper, who put in a short-range shot on the power play, making it 4-1.
Cincinnati defenseman Jake Flegel ripped a slap shot past Nell from the blue line to seal the win with 15:15 left in the game.