The sound of laughter and applause echoed from behind the doors of the Kansas City Mavericks locker room Friday night.
After an eight-game losing streak and just one point in a winless February, those sounds had been in short supply.
Alex Brooks and Shawn Pauly scored two goals each to help the Mavericks overcome a 3-1 deficit and claim a 6-3 victory that provided free hamburgers for all in attendance at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Trailing 3-2 going into the final period, the Mavericks used a four-goal third period to claim the win, the first in goal for new acquisition Mavric Parks.
Whenever the Mavericks score six goals, a local restaurant provides hamburgers for all fans who bring in their tickets.
“Burgers and a win,” a grinning coach John-Scott Dickson said after the victory over the rival Americans (25-23-4-2). “We needed this. The guys in that locker room needed this. It’s great to see some smiles and hear some laughter in the locker room. It felt so good to high-five the guys on the bench after the game and our fans wanted that sixth goal for the burgers.
“It was just a great night all around.”
What made it even more special was that the Mavericks honored first responders and Independence police officer Tom Wagstaff, who was injured in the line of duty and is making what many call a miraculous recovery (see page A1 for related story).
“We had a brave police officer here who nearly gave his life in the line of duty,” Dickson said, “and that inspires me and I know it inspires our players. This was just a great night to honor our first responders and Officer Wagstaff and give all our fans something to smile about.”
No two Mavericks owned bigger smiles after the game than Brooks, who scored the second and fifth goals of the game – his first two goals of the season – and Pauly, who knotted the score at 3-all at 5:01 of the third period and scored the game-winner at 6:28.
“We’ve been talking about scoring the greasy goals in front of the net, the dirty goals that win games, and that’s what we were able to do tonight,” Pauly said after the struggling Mavericks evened their record at 26-26-0-2. “This win was very much needed, and doing it against Allen in front of a big crowd makes it even better.
“We were all inspired by all the firemen and policemen in attendance tonight, and we were disappointed we got down 3-1 in the game. But even though we’ve lost our last few games, we’ve been playing much better. We really played well tonight in the second and third periods and we can build on that when we play Allen tomorrow night.”
Brooks was having some fun after the game, as he was asked about scoring his first two goals of the season.
“I told my roomie, (Mark) Cooper, I’m coming after him,” Brooks said as Cooper was within earshot of the comment. “Yeah, two goals tonight – and I think he has 15. I better sleep with one eye open tonight.”
The game started with Allen’s Alex Guptill scoring at 14:41, only to see Jared VanWormer tie it just over a minute later on assists from Bryce Aneloski and Cooper.
Vincent Arseneau and Spencer Asuchak scored in the opening 7:01 of the second period to give the Americans a 3-1 lead before Brooks then scored his first of the season off an Allen turnover at the 18:15 mark.
Pauly scored his 14th (5:01) and 15th (6:48) goals to lead off the third period and give the Mavericks the lead.
Brooks scored on a behind-the-net feed from Jordan Kwas at 11:35 to provide insurance. Matt Robertson’s empty net goal at 19:02 accounted for the sixth goal and free hamburgers for the fans..
Parks stopped 26 of 29 shots, including all nine by Allen in the third, for his first win as a Maverick.
“Tonight was the perfect storm after we got it going in the third period,” Dickson said. “We got the greasy goals around the net we’ve been talking about all season, Parks did a nice job in the net keeping us in the game, and we played hard all night. This team has never given up, and we have an uphill road the rest of the season, but we’ve never backed down from a challenge.”