Ben Halford stood tall in the net.
But the Kansas City Mavericks wasted a sterling performance by the goalkeeper as the Tulsa Oilers blanked coach John-Scott Dickson’s struggling team 1-0 Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
It was Tulsa’s first shutout victory over the Mavericks ever and it was the third loss in a row for the 11-5-1-0 Mavericks and their second shutout in the last two weeks (a 4-0 loss to Wichita Nov. 16).
It was the 90th all-time meeting between the two ECHL Mountain Division rivals and Devin Williams picked up the first shutout win for the 13-2-2-2 Oilers, who are 3-0 against the Mavericks this season.
Steven Kanusto’s slap shot from the blue line at 8:39 of the first period was the lone goal of the night. The closest the Mavericks came to scoring happened when Joey Stiles’ slap shot hit off the post during a power-play opportunity with 4:41 left in the game.
When asked if he heard the clang of puck on metal, Halford shook his head in agreement.
“Sometimes the puck goes in the net and sometimes it doesn’t,” said Halford, who is 2-2 this season as Mason McDonald’s backup. “This is one of those nights where you’re happy you play the same team again in 24 hours.
“We all want to redeem ourselves after that one.”
The Mavericks play host to Tulsa at 7:05 p.m. Saturday on Marvel Super Hero Night and Teddy Bear Toss Night, in which fans toss teddy bears on the ice following the Mavericks’ first goal. The toys are then distributed to children in area hospitals.
Halford praised his teammates following the loss, especially a trio of Mavericks who threw themselves in front of shots to keep the Oilers off the scoreboard.
“Worms (Jared VanWormer), (Brett) Beauvais and (Neal) Goff all sacrificed their bodies playing defense tonight,” Halford said. “They were great playing in front of the net.”
That style of play – and Halford stopping 31 of 32 shots – were all the good things Dickson saw on the ice as he was fuming as he left the locker room.
“We were awful tonight offensively,” Dickson said. “We worked on the neutral zone all week – that was all we basically worked on Thursday – but you couldn’t tell it by watching us play tonight. If our guys don’t want to play our style of hockey, we will find players who will.
“That was not good hockey. Ben did a great job in the net and Worms, Beauvais and Goffer (Goff) all played Mavericks hockey – throwing their bodies in front of shots – but we don’t have enough guys doing that.”
Dickson never mentioned that leading scorer Mark Cooper (20 points) and Corey Durocher (3 points in 3 games) missed the game with injuries, that Matt Robertson was suspended to deal with personal issues and Willie Raskob was called up to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate Stockton.
“You play with the guys you’ve got,” Dickson said. “We better start playing smarter hockey, simpler hockey, the type of hockey that made us so successful early in the season or there are going to be some changes.”
Williams stopped all 27 shots he faced.
Raskob, 23, played in every game this year, recording 11 assists and four minutes of penalties through 16 games. He signed with the Heat on a two-way deal this offseason following a rookie campaign with Quad City.
The Hastings, Minn., native is in his second professional season after a four-year stint with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.