A familiar face was in the net for the Kansas City Mavericks Saturday night, during the ECHL team’s Military Appreciation Night, and he was spectacular.
Mason McDonald, who has been battling a lower body injury that has kept him sidelined since Dec. 21, 2018, starred in a dramatic 4-3 win over Utah before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 5,800 fans at a sold-out Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
He made a dramatic save in the opening minutes of the game, stopping a one-on-one breakaway in the second period and watched his defense hold the 24-13-3-1 Grizzlies to just five shots on goal in a scoreless third period.
“It’s great to have Mase back in the net,” said captain Rocco Carzo, who assisted Darian Dziurzynski on his game-winning goal at 7:47 of the third period as the Mavericks improved to 15-4-1-0 at home and 20-17-2-1 overall. “We were a different team tonight, and I think Mase had a lot to do with it.
“He’s been out a long time and we wanted to do everything we could to support him tonight. In front of a great, sold-out crowd, you want to give them a win they’ll remember, and I think we were able to do that tonight.”
The win came after a listless 5-1 loss Friday that infuriated coach John-Scott Dickson. When asked if he was as pleased with the Saturday win, as he was frustrated and disappointed with the Friday loss, he grinned.
“Let’s just say we got a good response after that loss Friday,” said Dickson, who held a lengthy video session with his team, pointing out all the mental and physical mistakes that led to Friday’s loss.
“We showed who played well and who didn’t. I really challenged the guys, especially after watching the video. We played with a sense of urgency, we came out strong and had three strong periods. I really like what I saw out on the ice tonight and want to see it against a very good Rapid City team (that comes to the SEC Arena) on Tuesday.”
McDonald stopped 24 of 27 shots on goal Saturday, and praised his teammates following his return to the ice.
“When we got the (4-3) lead, I really expected a big push from Utah because they are such a good team, a real aggressive team,” McDonald said. “But our guys played such strong defense. The puck was in their end of the ice most of the third period, which took a lot of pressure off me.”
When asked about returning to action after more than a month off the ice, McDonald said, “It felt good. There were some nerves, some butterflies in the stomach, before the game, but after I made my first stop I felt great. It’s great to be back our helping the team win.”
It was a big night for the Dziurzynski brothers as Darian scored two goals, including the game winner and brother David scored the first goal of the game.
“I don’t know what it is, but when one of us really plays well the other plays well,” Darian said. “Tonight was great. What a great crowd, Mason came up big in the net, and we were able to send everyone home happy.
“After (Friday night), we owed our fans a win, a big win like this. That locker room is a lot happier after a game like this, believe me, a lot happier.”