A preview of the playoff intensity of Saturday night’s 2019 ECHL Ron Kelly Cup Playoffs game at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena unfolded before the opening puck drop when Kansas City’s Darian Dziurzynski and Tulsa’s Ryan Tesnik were sent to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Yeah, never seen that before,” quipped Kansas City coach John-Scott Dickson, whose Mavericks scored four goals in the second period and held on for a 4-3 win to take a 3-2 series lead and send it back to Tulsa for a 7:05 p.m. Game 6 tonight at the BOK Center.
“It starts out 4-on-4 and you know the intensity is going to be here all night. Welcome to the playoffs. You know, there were a bunch of times when you guys could have lost their cool and they didn’t let that happen. And I think that’s a big reason we won the game.”
Ironically, it was Dziurzynski who scored the eventual game-winning goal with just 2:22 left in the second period.
With the Mavericks goaltender Mason McDonald and Tulsa’s Devin Williams standing tall in their respective nets, the two teams battled to a scoreless first period.
“Yeah, after that first period you kind of felt like goals were going to be coming at a premium,” said McDonald, who stopped 30 of 33 Oiler shots on goal. “The guys were working so hard for me out there. I don’t know how many times Worms (Jared VanWormer) and the other guys used their bodies to block shots.”
When that comment was relayed to VanWormer, he just grinned and said, “When you have a guy like Mase in the net – who give it 110 percent every night – you’re going to do anything you can to help him defensively. I don’t even think about blocking a shot, I just do it.”
After the scoreless first 20 minutes, the action got hot and heavy as the Mavericks scored four goals and the Oilers two to make it 4-2 going into the third period.
VanWormer broke the lengthy scoreless tie on a redirection at the 8:18 mark of the second period. Nate Widman got his first point of the playoffs with an assist on the goal.
Tulsa responded when Alex Dostie broke through to tie the game at 1-1 at the 12:01 mark of the second.
Mavericks forward Loren Ulett snatched the lead back for the Mavericks
just 12 seconds later. It was the rookie’s second goal of the playoffs. Cliff Watson and Joey Sides assisted on the goal.
“A lot of goals scored in a short period of time,” Dickson said. “But that’s how the entire series has been. Two teams that are pretty evenly matched going after each other.”
The Oilers continued to push back, tying the game 57 seconds later on a goal from Eric Drapluk.
With 5:29 left in the period, Tulsa forward Alex Kromm was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for slew-footing. The Mavericks capitalized with two power play goals on the major penalty.
The first came on a dazzling individual effort by Corey Durocher, who put the Mavericks up 3-2 with an unassisted goal with 3:58 to go in the second period. The goal, in which he weaved around the Tulsa defense before putting in a backhanded shot, came during a 4-on-4 time because Neal Goff was penalized for roughing in retaliation for Kromm’s penalty..
“When I stole the puck (at center ice) I thought about passing it,” said Durocher, whose goal was a topic of conversation after the big win. “I just kind of looked one way, then the other way, got past a couple of their guys and went down main street and scored. It felt good.”
“It was great,” Dickson said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better goal. It showed what kind of skater Durocher is, because he created that all by himself.”
Dziurzynski then doubled the home team’s lead just 1:36 later, tipping home a shot by Mavericks captain Rocco Carzo. Defenseman Jordan Klimek also picked up an assist on the goal.
Tulsa’s Tanner Kaspick scored just 2:50 into the third period to set up a finish that was not for the faint of heart.
A late Mavericks penalty gave the Oilers a power play opportunity at 13:33. The Oilers got off two point-blank shots and three others against Kansas City’s penalty kill unit.
“Yeah, it was pretty intense,” Mason said. “A lot of the stops were by positioning, because some were just so close you just react and hope you are in the right place.”
He faced one final point-blank shot after the Oilers pulled Williams from the net with 1:37 left, and again, McDonald rose to the occasion.
“Mase has been playing so well,” Dickson said. “The guys have so much faith in him – we all have so much faith in him. He’s a big reason we’re heading back to Tulsa with a 3-2 lead.’
A win tonight and the Mavericks advance to the Mountain Division finals against Idaho, which defeated Utah 4-1 in its series with four overtime victories.