The Orange Army was there – 5,800 strong – filling nearly every seat in the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for Saturday night’s highly anticipated Kansas City Mavericks home opener.
Coach John-Scott Dickson’s team was fired up and sky high following a 3-1 start to the season, with all three victories on the road.
However, Wichita goaltender Shane Starrett and forward Mark MacMillan spoiled the big party as they starred in a 4-1 victory, keeping the Thunder’s record a perfect 6-0-0-0.
Starrett allowed a goal to Darren Nowick in the first period – and that was it. The Mavericks had 41 shots on goal, and Starrett was a brick wall, stopping 40.
“There are nights, you have to tip your hat to your opponent, and this was one of those nights,” Dickson said. “We did everything but score. We made a couple of mistakes that let them get shots on goal, but those are things we can clean up.
“I know the boys are disappointed, but they played hard and ran into a hot goalie. I just want to thank the fans for coming out and supporting us, and we want them to know we’re going to win plenty of games here at home – we just couldn’t get the job done tonight.”
The Mavericks dominated play for most of the first period, holding an 18-8 shot advantage, but the Thunder’s Zach O’Brien tied it 1-1 with just 36 seconds left in the period.
Kansas City again dominated play in the second period, outshooting the Thunder 16-3, but Wichita’s Jeremy Beaudry scored the lone goal to give the Thunder a 2-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.
MacMillan scored twice in the third period to complete the big night for the Thunder.
“You want to do better for the hometown fans, especially in a sold-out barn on opening night,” Mavericks captain Tyler Elbrecht said. “We had so many chances. If we’re not playing a hot goalie, we could have run away with it, but their guy was tough. He stopped just about everything we threw at him.”
Mavericks goalie Shane Parsons stopped 23 of 27 shots and took a philosophical approach to the loss.
“Everything I heard about our fans being the best in the league is true,” Parsons said. “I got chills when I walked through our (locker room) doors and out onto the ice the first time. We wanted to reward them with a win tonight, but we didn’t. That’s why you play 72 games – you have some games like this, hopefully not many of them, but I personally want to thank them for coming out and supporting us. They were amazing.”
FORMER MAVERICK IN NHL: Ville Husso became the second former Maverick to receive a NHL call-up this season, announced yesterday by the St. Louis Blues prior to Kansas City’s home opener.
Husso played in 13 games with the Mavericks last season, posting a .910 save percentage and a 3.73 goals against average. The Helsinki, Finland native completed his tenure in Kansas City with a 4-4-1-2 record, claiming one shutout in the process.
He joins Maxime Lagace as former Mavericks goalies being called up to the NHL this season. Lagace was called up by the Vegas Golden Knights one week ago following an injury to Marc-Andre Fleury but has not yet appeared in a game for the expansion team.
Husso becomes the third former Maverick overall to get the call from a NHL club. The first Maverick to reach the game’s highest stage was forward Ross Johnston, who played in 13 games with the Mavericks during the 2015-16 season before making his NHL debut with the Islanders the same year.