Kansas City Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson admits to being a bit of a scoreboard watcher at this time of the season. That being the case, he’s going to like what he sees tonight.
His Mavericks, who are 2-7-0-1 over the past month, claimed a 3-2 victory Friday over a Fort Wayne Komets team that was 12-0-0-1 in its last 13 games by scoring two “greasy” third-period goals while Adam Carlson turned in his finest performance of the season in goal at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
With Kalamazoo and Indy – the two teams directly ahead of the Mavericks in the Central Division – losing Friday night, Kansas City (58 points) jumped ahead of the Fuel (57) into fifth place and trail fourth-place Kalamazoo (59) by just one point. The four top teams from each division advance to postseason action.
“A good win, a very good win,” Dickson said after the Mavericks improved to 28-27-0-2. “We keep talking about getting the greasy goals, the goals right in front of the net. We had two shots inside in the first, three in the second period – and one goal – and eight in the third and two goals, including the game-winner.”
Mark Cooper had two goals for the Mavericks, and Corey Durocher scored the game-winner with just 56 seconds left.
“It’s not rocket science,” Dickson said. “We can score when guys are willing to sacrifice, and Coop and Durocher sacrificed tonight and we got a big win.”
When asked about scoreboard watching, the second-year coach said, “Sure, everyone does. But I just want to know what’s going on. Both Indy and Kalamazoo have two games in hand, so we have to keep winning. We have to win at home and we have to win on the road. And if we keep playing like we did tonight, we can get into the playoffs.
“I believe it. And more importantly, the guys in the locker room believe it, too.”
Durocher took a pinpoint pass from Patch Alber in the paint and drilled it past Garrett Bartus at the 19:04 mark of the third period to put the rambunctious crowd of 5,185 in a state of delirium with the dramatic game-winner.
“The fans have really embraced me since I got here a few weeks ago,” said Durocher, the No. 1 star of the game. “It felt so good to reward them for all their support.”
The Mavericks’ second line of Durocher (one goal, one assist), Cooper (two goals) and Jared VanWormer (two assists) was No. 1 in the heart of Carlson, who stonewalled the explosive Komets on 27 of 29 shots.
The Komets led through one period after claiming the lone goal of the opening 20 minutes, a redirection from Marco Roy. The teams were tied at seven shots apiece heading into the locker room.
Cooper tied it in the second, tapping in a perfect cross-crease feed on a two-on-one break from VanWormer at the 7:31 mark.
Justin Hodgman, though, put the visitors back on top heading into the second intermission.
Cooper then corralled a loose puck in front of the net at 6:11 to again pull the Mavericks even.
The teams battled to a stalemate deep into the third, tied until Durocher came through with the game-winning goal.
“I try to remain calm and collected, not getting too high or too low, but I got pretty excited when Corey got the third goal,” Carlson said. “Then, I had to regroup because there were 56 seconds left in the game and there was no way we were going to let them come back and tie it.”
Carlson’s stock has risen with his coach, as he has become one of the noisiest cheerleaders on the Mavericks’ bench.
“When Mavric (Parks) got that shutout (1-0 against Allen) the other night, no one was cheering louder than Adam,” Dickson said. “That makes an impact with me. He’s struggled a little bit this season, and both guys want to be in the net. That’s why he was in there tonight – he deserved to be playing tonight and I’m so happy for him.”
When asked where that team spirit comes from, Carlson had a ready answer.
“My mom and dad, Lisa and John Carlson,” Carlson said. “They taught me about sportsmanship at an early age. They taught the importance of being a good person, and I owe them so much. They are responsible for the person I am today.”
The Mavericks and Wings meet again at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in a Hockey Heritage Night rematch.