With just three minutes, 36 seconds left in a crowd-pleasing 1-0 thriller against the longtime rival Allen Americans, Kansas City Mavericks goalie Mavric Parks made two saves that wowed his teammates and coach.
With the Americans making the most of a late power play attack, Joel Chouinard fired a laser to the right of the rookie goalie, who made a pad save.
The puck kicked back to his left, where Allen’s leading scorer, Casey Pierro-Zabatel, waited for the perfect slap shot opportunity. He fired away from point-blank range, and again, Parks came up with a masterful save.
The Americans went into the third period with just 11 shots on goal, and came away with 11 attempts in the final 20 minutes as Parks wrote his name in the Mavericks record book by recording the first 1-0 victory since Parker Milner blanked Wichita 1-0 on Nov. 7, 2015.
“The kid stood on his head and we rode on his back and got this win,” Mavericks defenseman Bryce Aneloski said after the game. “We played with a great deal of confidence because of the way he was playing. He inspired every guy on the team and we were able to enjoy a great weekend.”
The Mavericks, with Parks in the net, topped Allen 6-3 Friday night and came back to claim the 1-0 win before the second consecutive sold-out crowd at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Mavericks improved to 27-26-0-2, which is good for 56 points in the ECHL’s Central Division. The sixth-place Mavericks trail Indy (57) and Quad Kalamazoo (59) for fifth and fourth place in the division. The top four teams in each division head to the playoffs.
“The defense was stellar tonight,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said after the weekend sweep of Allen ended an eight-game losing streak. “And it all started with Mavric. He made some saves you had to see to believe. Those two saves he made when Allen was on the power play were very impressive.
“He’s a (ECHL) rookie, but he has a high hockey IQ. And I don’t know if you can hear it in the stands or in the press box, but he really engages with his teammates. He’s a great communicator out on the ice. Right now, everyone is looking at the standings, and if we keep playing like we did this weekend, we can play our way back into the playoffs with a little help from some other teams.”
With the two weekend wins, Parks is now 2-1 in three starts for the Mavericks, and he’s loving every minute of it.
“I was so thrilled when I got the call from the Mavericks,” said Parks, who was playing for the Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League when the Mavericks had three goalies called up to their respective American Hockey League affiliates (Tyler Parsons and Mason McDonald to Stockton and Chris Nell to Hartford). “Tonight, it all began with our defense. Those guys were sacrificing their bodies, doing everything they could to block shots. Allen only had 11 shots until the third period. That’s pretty amazing.”
When asked about the barrage he faced in the third period, Parks just chuckled.
“That’s why I’m here – to stop shots from going in the back of the net,” he said. “I just reacted, especially when they were on that late power play. Sometimes, you have to make big saves to win games, and luckily, I was able to do that late in the game.”
Jared VanWormer scored at 13-minute mark of the first period on assists from Corey Durocher and Mark Cooper. That was all the Mavericks and Mavric needed to claim the shutout victory.
“Mavric has a great presence in the net and he came to play tonight,” VanWormer said. “It’s a funny game. Who’d have thought that a goal in the first period would be the only goal scored tonight, but the way Mavric is playing, you feel confident when you have any type of lead at any time in the game.”
The Mavericks hope to keep their modest winning streak alive when they face the Rapid City Rush at 7:05 p.m. tonight at SEC Arena.