A lifeless Kansas City Mavericks squad did not give a Military Appreciation Weekend crowd much to cheer about Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena as the visiting Utah Grizzlies got off to a hot start and never cooled off in claiming a 5-1 victory.
It was the Mavericks’ fourth loss in a row and would have been their third shutout in the past four games had it not been for a late goal by C.J. Eick.
“We made them look faster, better than they are,” team captain Rocco Carzo said after the Mavericks fell to 14-4-1-0 at home and 19-17-2-1 overall (after a 9-1 start to the season).
“We didn’t come out and play hard, play the way we know we can play until the third period, and by that time we’re down 5-0. They get the quick 2-0 lead, and that’s when the urgency should kick in – and it didn’t. There was no sense of urgency and I don’t know why.”
Neither does coach John-Scott Dickson, who said changes are coming.
“I don’t want to talk about anything while I am so emotional, but we have too many guys making mistakes they shouldn’t be making out there, and I’m talking about veteran guys, guys who know better,” an irate Dickson said, doing his best to keep his anger in check. “We’re making passes to no one. On their first goal, there was no communication from our guys.”
Utah’s Josh Dickson simply took an uncontested slap shot and Mavericks goalie Ben Halford never seemed to see the puck until it struck the back of the net.
“We shouldn’t be allowing goals like that,” the frustrated coach said.
The 24-12-3-1 Grizzlies jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game with a dominant offensive performance. Dickinson scored the first goal just two and a half minutes into the game’s opening period.
The Grizzlies, who capitalized on several Mavericks turnovers, doubled their lead seven minutes later, when Dickson fed Jack Walker with a perfect breakaway pass. Walker chipped the puck over Halford’s shoulder.
Caleb Herbert made it 3-0 just 3:31 into the second period and former Maverick Eric Freschi made it 4-0 with a goal in the closing seconds of the second period.
The Grizzlies made it 5-0 and snuffed out any hope for a Mavericks comeback with a goal from Austin Carroll a minute and a half into the third period.
Eick’s goal at 7:31 was far too little, far too late.
“We finally started playing our game in the third period, and it was too late – way too late to get back in the game,” Carzo said. “We’re on a losing streak that we have to end. We’ve lost two games at home (during a nine-game homestand). These games are so important, the points are so important, we need to get it together tomorrow night.”
Halford stopped 21 of 26 shots for the Mavericks while Kevin Carr improved to 13-4 and stopped all 26 Mavericks shots.
The Mavericks and Grizzlies faceoff at 7:05 p.m. Saturday as Military Appreciation Weekend continues.
Following Saturday night’s game, the Mavericks will auction off their military themed jerseys.