The crazy nature of 3-on-3 play that is overtime in the ECHL means a breakaway is practically inevitable at some point.
Mark Cooper happened to get the first chance, and the Kansas City Mavericks forward made good on it. His goal with 1:56 into overtime gave the Mavericks a 2-1 win over the Wichita Thunder, sending most of the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena crowd home happy Friday.
Cooper got the puck in front of a Wichita player after Willie Raskob jarred it loose on the boards at mid-ice, maintained a step ahead on the left side, did a toe drag and deked Wichita goalie Dylan Wells with the backhand before sliding in the right-handed wrister.
Cooper’s third goal of the season raised KC’s record to 4-1-1-0.
“They kind of had the puck the whole period,” Cooper said. “But Willy made a good play at the wall and got the puck. I’ve practiced that move a lot.”
Whereas he finished the game-winning play, Cooper started the sequence that pulled the Mavericks even in the second period. After stealing the puck from behind at the blue line, he found a streaking C.J. Eick nearby.
Wells saved Eick’s shot, but the puck found David Dziurzynski’s stick on the rebound, and the one-time NHL player punched in the rebound with 11:02 left to the game at 1-1.
“I picked his pocket, but I had no speed,” Cooper said of the play, which marked his fifth assist this season. “I tried to get my footing and saw Eick closing on the net, he made a great play off the pad and (Dziurzynski) was there.”
The Mavericks maintained offensive pressure much of the second period and nearly went ahead a couple minutes after tying it. Jordan Ernst seemingly had an open net after taking a pass across the crease, but Wells made a sprawling glove save on the goal line.
The Thunder (3-1-2-0) grabbed the first lead, converting their second power play at the 10:32 mark in the first period when Travis Brown’s slap shot from the wing was slightly redirected past Mason McDonald to the stick side.
The Mavericks had a 5-4 edge in shots on goal after one period, but by game’s end that margin was 29-17.
“I don’t think we were ready to play, and it showed taking those two penalties,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said. “But after the first 10 minutes, 12 minutes of the first period, we pushed the pace in the second and third.”
After the first goal, McDonald was rock solid, making 17 saves, including a sequence in which he made a pad save on the initial charge and a stick save on the quick rebound.
“Mason, he made some good saves,” Dickson said. “(The pad save and the rebound), that showed he was locked in and ready to go. You even saw in overtime, Mason stepped out and played the puck.
“I just thought we had good speed tonight. When we’re skating like we did, we’re going to be tough for teams.”