Coming into the game against the Allen Americans, The Kansas City Mavericks only had one shutout victory all year. It belonged to Mason McDonald.
He did it again Friday.
The Kansas City Mavericks goaltender helped his team “steal” a slick 2-0 victory at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“There are nights your goalie is so good,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said, “that he helps you steal a win. That’s how good Mase (McDonald) was tonight. He made every stop, starred in that 5-on-3 penalty kill with a couple of big saves and came up big when we needed him to come up big.
“He battled some injuries early in the season and now he’s back, and he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career. He was special, really special tonight.”
The lanky 6-foot-4 goalie stood tall in the net, stopping all 33 American shots to help the Mavericks improve to 23-18-2-1 overall and 18-5-1-0 at home.
It was his second shutout of this homestand as he improved his personal record to 13-3 and lowered his goals against average, which was 2.47 when the game started.
“When Mase plays like he did tonight, you want to do everything you can to help him win,” said captain Rocco Carzo, who scored the game winner at 15:07 of the first period off a pass from Nate Widman, and then starred on the defensive unit that kept the Americans from scoring as they had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:23 of a 4-minute penalty kill in the third period.
“Personally, I like a challenge, and there isn’t a much bigger challenge than keeping a team from scoring when they have a two-man advantage for nearly a minute and a half. But (Riley) Sweeney is diving in front of the net blocking shots, and every guy out there is willing to do the same thing. The way Mase played tonight elevated the play of everyone else. We weren’t going to let him lose that shut out or the game – not the way he was playing.”
McDonald, who made three point-blank saves in the game, could not take a deep breath until the Mavericks’ Cliff Watson scored a soaring, end-to-end, empty-net goal with 52 seconds left to make it a 2-0 game.
But before that, the Americans pulled goalie Kyle Hayton with 1:52 left in the game, and McDonald made three spectacular saves that had Dickson singing his praise.
“He made those two big saves in the second, and so many all night you can’t remember all of them,” the coach said, “then, when they pulled their goalie, he stopped a series of shots at the end.
“We finally got that empty netter – which was great – because Mase deserved, what? About 52 seconds where the game wasn’t on the line. I wonder if he was the first star tonight. I think I would have voted for him.”
He was, with Carzo claiming the second star and Widman the third.
Perhaps McDonald’s top saves of the night came at 7:37 of the second period when Spencer Asuchak took a point-blank shot that somehow McDonald stopped with his leg.
The puck bounced to Adam Miller, who had a shot with McDonald a bit out of position, but the goalie stopped that short-range blast with his body.
“Just another night in the net,” quipped a grinning McDonald, who has solidified his place as the Mavericks’ No. 1 goalie. “The guys did a good job in front of the net. Now that I’m healthy, I feel so good. I want to help take this team to the playoffs and see what happens.
“Tonight, this win was for our team, our organization and our fans. It was for everyone!”