FORT WAYNE, Ind. - In one memorable night, the Kansas City Mavericks ended a frustrating seven-game losing streak, and also picked up a victory that clinched a playoff berth.They dominated the Fort Wayne Komets 5-2 Saturday night at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
The 34-30-3-2 Mavericks return to the ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
“Do I sound like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders?” quipped John-Scott Dickson, who also picked up his 100th career victory as the Mavericks head coach.
“We’ve talked throughout this (losing) streak, and I have been proud of the guys for playing hard. We haven’t got many breaks, but there was never any finger pointing or accusations.
“We played hard tonight and won in one of the toughest buildings in the ECHL to get a win in. Mase (Mason McDonald) was outstanding in the goal ,and we did all the things we’ve been doing this season when we’ve been successful.”
McDonald is 21-10 in the net for the Mavericks.
Following the win Saturday, the Mavericks traveled to Indianapolis and topped the Fuel 5-2 Sunday afternoon at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
“That win Sunday told me a lot about our guys,” Dickson said. “We had clinched the playoff spot the night before, but they came out and played the same type of game against the Fuel and got another big win and we get to come home winning the last two games of the eight-game road trip.”
In Saturday’s win, Mavericks forward Corey Durocher finished the night with a goal and two assists and Greg Betzold added a goal and an assist.
After a scoreless first period, Betzold broke the tie after Fort Wayne goaltender Alex Dubeau turned the puck over in his own zone. Betzold tucked the puck behind Dubeau, scoring his 25th goal of the season.
Captain Rocco Carzo doubled the Mavs lead with 5:20 left in the second period on a power-play goal.
Fort Wayne drew closer on a goal from Jake Kamrass, but the Mavericks padded their lead with 29 seconds left in the period on a Jared VanWormer power-play goal, the Mavericks’ second of the evening.
“Our special teams really played well against the Komets,” Dickson said.
The Mavericks carried a 3-1 lead into the third period, but Fort Wayne drew closer on a goal from Anthony Nellis with 1:46 to go in regulation.
But the Mavericks sealed the victory with two empty-net goals from David Dziurzynski in the final two minutes of the game.
Dickson downplayed his 100th career win, although he said Carzo chased down the game puck and presented it to him after the win.
“I’m not about personal success, only team success,” Dickson said. “It was nice to get No. 100 because it put us in the playoffs. I am just so proud of the way our guys played this weekend.”
In Indianapolis Sunday, Mavericks goaltender Nick Schneider picked up his seventh win of the season (7-11). Mavericks forwards Dziurzynski, Betzold and Joey Sides all turned in multipoint performances as well.
Mavericks rookie defenseman Nikolas Koberstein broke the scoreless tie 5:47 into the game with an unassisted goal, beating Fuel goaltender Chase Marchand on a tight angle. The goal was Koberstein’s first professional goal.
Indy tied the game at 1-1 at the 10:22 mark on a goal by Mark Thompson. Kansas City regained the lead with 2:42 left in the first period when VanWormer collected a rebound and stuffed it into the net for his 19th goal of the season.
Mavericks rookie forward Denver Pierce earned his first professional point with an assist on the goal. Betzold got the secondary assist and the Mavericks took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
The Mavericks continued to build their lead in the second period. C.J. Eick scored his 10th goal of the season, finishing an odd-man rush to make it a 3-1 game. Sides and Loren Ulett assisted on the goal.
Kansas City extended the lead to 4-1 when Willie Raskob found the back of the net on a five-on-three power play with 1:41 left in the period. David Dziurzynski and Betzold assisted on the goal. The assist was Betzold’s second of the game.
Indy cut the Mavericks’ lead to 4-2 late in the third period on a goal from Jack Ramsey with 2:41 left in regulation. The Mavericks responded quickly, sealing the game on a goal by David Dziurzynski during a two-on-one break. Durocher and Sides picked up the assists on the goal.