WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Two nights after losing a 3-2 contest to the Utah Grizzlies that kept his Missouri Mavericks from reaching the playoffs for the second time in the past three years, coach John-Scott Dickson wrote something on the locker room chalkboard before Friday night’s game: “HAVE FUN, STAY LOOSE, COMPETE.”
His team responded with a hard-fought 3-2 victory that might keep the Grizzlies from reaching postseason play. It all depends on what the Alaska Aces (who were trailing 1-0 in the second period at press time) do in their final two games of the regular season.
“I really wanted to see how the boys would respond tonight, after that tough loss Wednesday,” Dickson said by phone, “and I got the response I was hoping for. The guys have been pretty loose and upbeat – as well as you’d expect after that loss Wednesday – and I thought they could come out and play hard.
“It didn’t get us in the playoffs, but it might keep them out of the playoffs, and that’s what we’re playing for me. We’re playing for pride and to finish the season with the best record possible.”
The win gives Missouri a 33-29-4-5 record while Utah falls to 35-29-5-2. The Mavericks have 75 points and the Grizzlies have 77 points. A win in the regular-season final Saturday would give Missouri 77 points, but the Grizzlies own the tiebreaker.
“We’re playing for pride, the young guys went out and got it done tonight and it was just a great win,” Dickson said, “I just wish we could have gotten a few more this season.”
The Mavericks struck early in the first to take a 1-0 lead on Dane Fox’s goal just 4:13 into the first period. He was assisted by team captain Andrew Courtney.
Just 1:26 later Eric Scheid found the net for his 11th goal of the season. Jared VanWormer assisted to get his first professional point.
The second period saw the tables turn as Utah’s Mathieu Aubin scored just 40 seconds into the period. Utah then tied the game 2-2 on Austen Brassard’s goal with just 12 seconds left in the period.
The third period had a slow start, but Matt Robertson was able to get past Utah goaltender Kevin Boyle for the game-winner. Courtney and Conner Bleackley added assists.
Utah pulled Boyle for a sixth skater with 1:32 left in regulation, but was unable to even the score.
In his second professional start Zach Nagelvoort allowed two goals in two periods. He had a minor cramp after the second period and Josh Robinson came into the game and picked up the win.
“Zach did a great job, and we didn’t want to risk anything so we brought in Robo and he got the job done,” Dickson said.