Before John-Scott Dickson’s Kansas City Mavericks hit the road to take on the two top teams in the ECHL’s Mountain Division last week, the coach was hoping to return to Independence with at least four points.
“We had games in Colorado and Boise and four points would have meant a 2-1 trip – and at this point in the season, I’d have taken that,” Dickson said, long before anyone had returned to the team’s locker room early Monday morning following the west road trip.
The Mavericks dominated every phase of the game last Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Eagles, then lost two-heartbreaking overtime games to the Steelheads, resulting in the four-point trip.
“We’d have been happy with four, but those two overtime losses (by identical 3-2 scores Friday and Saturday) were tough,” the coach added. “We played well enough to win each one of those games. And at this point in the season – really, for the last month of the season – we’re playing playoff-type games in a playoff atmosphere.
“We’re back to where we basically control our own destiny, even though Kalamazoo has a game in hand, so we’ll see what happens over the next few weeks. But I really like how our team is playing right now.”
The Mavericks and Kalamazoo are tied for fourth place in the Central Division with 64 points each. The Mavericks have 11 games left this season and the Wings have 12. The top four teams in each division advance to the playoffs.
“I looked this up the other day, because this playoff race is so close,” Dickson said. “The first tiebreaker is your total number of regular season wins.”
A team receives two points for any type of win, one point for an overtime or shootout loss and no points for a loss in regulation.
The Mavericks are 30-27-2-2 while Kalamazoo is 29-25-4-2. And right behind in fifth place is Indy, with a 30-28-2-1 record and 63 points.
“It couldn’t be any tighter,” Dickson said. “We just have to take care of our business because we can’t control what any other team does.”
In their second overtime loss to the Steelheads, the Mavericks jumped on top 1-0 on a Jordan Kwas power play goal at the 6:48 mark on assists from Bryce Aneloski and Shawn Pauly.
Brady Brassart then tied it for Idaho just over a minute later.
Kansas City’s Matt Robertson picked up a loose puck and beat the Steelheads’ Tomas Sholl on a breakaway to go ahead 2-1 at the 7:36 mark of the second period.
Steven McParland knotted it for Idaho with an unassisted goal about six minutes later, finding the back of the net against Mavericks goalie Adam Carlson.
After a scoreless third, the teams went to overtime again, and McParland delivered the game-winner with less than a minute remaining in the overtime period.
The Mavericks are idle until Friday when they take on the Tulsa Oilers on the road in the first contest of a three-game weekend. The Oilers come to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, and the Mavericks will play host to the Quad City Mallards at 4:05 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s a three-in-three weekend, but a four-in-five series overall because we play Wichita at home next Tuesday,” Dickson said. “We’re going to be careful with the guys this week. We have them coming in for a light skate later this morning, then they have tomorrow off. We want them to fresh and ready for the big weekend games.”
NOWICK CALLED UP: Forward Darren Nowick was recalled Saturday by the Stockton Heat, Kansas City’s American Hockey League affiliate.
Nowick was reassigned to the Mavericks on March 7 ahead of the team’s win at Colorado. He has played in 22 games with the Mavericks this season, totaling 15 points on six goals and nine assists.
With Stockton, the Long Beach, Calif., native has three points on a goal and two assists in 12 in AHL action.
"Sure, we could use Nowick, but that's the game, that's this league,” Dickson said. “We are hopefully preparing our guys to make it up to Stockton.”