Early in the week, Kansas City Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said he could accept an 0-72 record if his team went out and fought hard and played Mavericks hockey.
He had not seen Mavericks hockey in two demoralizing losses to start the season – 5-2 at Tulsa and 6-2 at home against the Indy Fuel.
Well, he won’t have to worry about any type of season-long losing streak for a while as the Mavericks ended that season-opening two-game skid with a dominating 5-1 victory over the Tulsa Oilers Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Captain Rocco Carzo scored two goals and forwards Ryan Van Stralen, Mason Morelli and Loren Ulett found their names on the score sheet multiple times.
But one of the biggest storylines of the victory was the return from the American Hockey League Stockton Heat of goalie Nick Schneider, who stopped 24 of 25 Oiler shots.
“We laid an egg in our first two games, and everyone knows it – we didn’t play Mavericks hockey – the type of hockey that helped us pretty much dominate all phases of the game tonight,” Carzo said.
“We came out with a lot of energy, got that early 2-0 lead and never let up. And it was great having Nick back with the team (after being assigned to Stockton before the start of the season, leaving rookie Hayden Hawkey as the lone goalie on the roster).
“I want to emphasize that it’s great having Nick back, but Hayden did a good job in his two starts. Let’s be honest, we didn’t do a lot to help him, and we’re going to be a much better team the next time he’s in the net. He deserved better than he got in those two losses. He’s going to be an important part of our team this season.”
Dickson agreed with his captain.
“We threw Hayden into the fire while we weren’t playing very good hockey,” Dickson said. “While Nick came in and played really well tonight, we are confident in both our goalies. They’re going to help us win a lot of games this season.”
Carzo found a loose puck in front of the net at 7:28 of the first period to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.
It was the first time the Mavericks scored the first goal of the game this season. Forwards Mason Morelli and Jack Walker assisted on Carzo’s goal.
The Mavericks doubled their lead with 6:20 left in the opening period when Darian Dziurzynski stuffed home a loose rebound in the crease. Forwards Mitch Hults and David Dziurzynski assisted on the goal.
Neither team scored in the second period, but the Mavericks exploded for three goals in the final 20 minutes of play.
Carzo grabbed his second goal of the evening at the 7:27 mark, parking himself in front of Tulsa goaltender Devin Williams and burying a feed from Walker to make it 3-0.
“That’s what the good teams, the good players, do – get in front of the net and score those greasy goals,” Dickson said. “Tonight, we just kept it simple and attacked the net anytime there was a loose puck. It looked simple – and successful – because it was.”
Walker and Morelli picked up their second assists of the game on the goal.
Van Stralen kept the pressure on Tulsa, extending the Mavericks lead to 4-0 at the 10:49 mark of the third. Defenseman Justin Woods and Ulett assisted on the goal.
The Oilers prevented a shutout when Brent Gates scored with 7:49 remaining in regulation.
Kansas City added a goal from forward Tad Kozun. Ulett and Van Stralen picked up their second points of the night with assists.