Mark Cooper enjoyed the type of weekend in which Kansas City Mavericks fans were chanting “Super Cooper! Super Cooper!”
The team’s reigning MVP scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 overtime Friday night at home against Wichita and then duplicated the feat Saturday night as he scored with just 34 seconds left in the overtime period to give the Mavericks a 5-4 win over the Mountain Division-leading Utah Grizzlies and help them maintain their perfect record this season at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
As he returned to the ice to toss a lucky fan a T-shirt after being named the game’s No. 1 star, fans chanted his name.
“A good weekend, a very good weekend,” Cooper said as the Mavericks improved to 3-0 at home and 5-1-1-0 overall to move into fourth in the highly competitive Mountain Division behind Utah (13), Tulsa (12) and Rapid City (12). “I could tell early on that Coach (John-Scott) Dickson has put together a very good team.
“It’s still early in the season, but I feel like I’ve skated with these guys for an entire season. We’re all in it for reason – to bring the best fans in the ECHL a championship.”
For the second night in a row, the visitors struck first as Caleb Herbert scored at 3:49 of the first period to give the Grizzlies a quick advantage.
But C.J. Eick responded, scoring against his former team at 18:45.
Utah’s top-ranked power play unit made it a 2-1 game when Austin Carroll scored early in the second period against Mason McDonald. But Matt Robertson and Jared VanWormer scored two goals in just over a minute to give the Mavericks their first lead.
That lasted all of 29 seconds as Taylor Richart scored 8:17 into the second to make it 3-3.
The teams traded goals early in the third, with Jake Marchment scoring first for Utah before Greg Betzold knotted it again with 12:33 remaining.
The Mavericks had a man advantage for the first two minutes of the overtime, but did not score.
“We should have scored on the power play and made it a less stressful night for everyone,” Cooper said. “But we’ll take a win, especially a home win.”
Dickson is happy to see Cooper in midseason form.
“Coop is in a zone right now,” the coach said. “Back-to-back game winners in overtime – we’ll take that. And our fans deserve a start like this. It is so important to win home games, and we’ve done a good job of that so far this season.”
Added VanWormer: “We were really coming together and playing well as a team at the end of last season. We have a lot of key guys back from last year and we are playing as team, even though it’s still early in the season.”
McDonald has a 2.25 goals against average and improved to 3-0.
“I don’t play any differently in an overtime period, because you have to be focused and ready for anything – especially a breakaway in 3-on-3 hockey,” McDonald said.
The Mavericks will take that momentum into tonight’s home game against the Mountain Division rival Allen Americans (3-6-0-1) at 7:05 at SEC Arena.