After a pair of weekend wins over a Fort Wayne Komets team that was 12-0-1-0 in its last 13 games, coach John-Scott Dickson rewarded his team with a Sunday off.
They were back on the ice Monday, and the coach didn’t like the pace of the practice, and let them know it.
“I just wanted them to know that winning two games against an explosive team like the Komets wasn’t going to allow them to take even five minutes off in practice,” Dickson said, referring to Friday’s 3-2 victory and Saturday’s 4-3 win. “Pros have to focus – at practice and during games – and we better be focused and ready to play this week in Colorado and Toledo as we get ready for the stretch run of the season against two more very good opponents.”
The pair of weekend wins, combined with two losses from Kalamazoo, leaves the Mavericks just one point out of the playoffs and has the Wings down to one game in hand on Kansas City. Since the team’s eight-game losing streak, the Mavericks have won four of their last five games with two weekend sweeps – over Allen and Fort Wayne. The Wings are 2-7-1-0 in their last 10 games.
“We’re almost to where everything is in our hands, where can control our own destiny,” said forward Jared VanWormer, who had a four-point weekend that included two power play goals – including the game-winner – Saturday night. “We can watch the standings, but we know what we have to do. We have to play the type of hockey we played this weekend and if we do that, we’re going to be fine.”
The play of the second line of Corey Durocher, Mark Cooper and VanWormer over the weekend was sensational. All three scored multiple points Friday, highlighted by a pair of goals from Cooper and the game-winning goal from Durocher as well as two assists from VanWormer.
“You could measure all of Jared’s goals this season, and they wouldn’t total 20 feet,” quipped Dickson, who has been seeking out the player who would get in front of the net and score the “greasy, dirty” goals that often lead to a win.
“He’s been the guy to get the greasy goals,” Dickson said. “Of our last 15 goals, none have been from more than five feet away from the net. VanWormer’s two power-play goals were huge Saturday. He’ll sacrifice his body for the good of the team, and that’s one big reason we’ve been successful against Allen and Fort Wayne.”
When asked about the “greasy” goals, VanWormer said, “You get beat up in there, but the benefits for the team are huge. We needed two wins this weekend and we got them. We could have gotten down when we lost those eight games in a row, but I think it made us mad, got us fired up. and now we’re playing some of our best hockey of the season.”
Adam Carlson was in the net for both wins over the Komets. He stopped 39 shots Saturday. Dickson said he earned his second start in a row following his performance in Friday’s 3-2 win.
“After you beat a team like Fort Wayne 3-2, you have earned the right for another start against them,” Dickson said. “With Carlson and Mavric (Parks) we have two young goalies who are getting better with each start. We’re all excited to see what they do the rest of the season.”
The Mavericks rallied from a 3-1 deficit Saturday. Durocher scored a first period to tie it in the first period, but the Komets grabbed the lead with goals from Zac Larraza and Garrett Thompson.
VanWormer scored his first power play goal off assists from Patch Alber and Bryce Aneloski at the 12:10 mark to make it 3-2 entering the final period.
Eric Freschi tied it at 6:39, and Van Wormer scored the second power-play goal at 13:13 to put the Mavericks ahead for good.
The Mavericks play at Colorado at 8:15 p.m. (Central time) Wednesday and at Idaho Friday and Saturday (both at 8:10 Central).