It doesn’t get much better than the back-to-back wins goalie Nick Schneider and his Kansas City Mavericks teammates experienced Friday and Saturday against the Utah Grizzlies at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
Following a 5-1 Friday night win, the Mavericks used a furious third-quarter rally to overcome a 2-1 deficit and claim a thrilling 4-2 win in which Schneider stopped 17 first-period shots.
The win streak was short-lived, however, as the Mavericks were stopped 4-2 by the Wichita Thunder at home Monday.
Mavericks captain Rocco Carzo scored his 100th career goal Monday night in the loss on Military Appreciation Night.
Forward Loren Ulett picked up a goal in his second consecutive game. The Mavericks continued their success on the penalty kill, killing off all three Wichita power plays and have now killed off 27 consecutive penalties.
“We played with a lot of energy in the first and third periods,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said. “I don’t know what happened in the second period. That’s something we’ll look at and fix. I know missed assignments led to a couple of their goals.”
Ulett scored the first goal of the game with 3:55 to go in the first period on assists from forward Bryan Lemos and defenseman Corey Schueneman.
Wichita evened the score early on in the second period on a goal from forward Jack Combs just 12 seconds into the middle frame. The Thunder took the lead on another goal from Combs at the 17:46 mark of the second period.
Wichita continued to build on their lead just 37 seconds later at the 18:13 mark of the period on a goal from forward Stefan Fournier.
The Mavericks (5-7-0-0) drew closer in the third period, getting a power play goal from Carzo.
“It was your typical Rocco goal in front of the net – greasy, getting a great pass from Cliff (Watson), nothing pretty about it, but I’ll take it.”
The goal was even more special because his father, Rocco Carzo III, was in attendance to see the milestone, along with Carzo’s fiancee, Megan Kaldenberg.
“My dad has my first pro goal, my college goals, jerseys from all my teams in his office at our home,” Carzo said, grinning. “He’s getting so much stuff he’s having to put it in my sister’s room. I guess we’re taking over her room. Sorry Sis.”
The Mavericks continued to apply pressure to Wichita, but with Mavericks goaltender Schneider pulled for the extra attacker, Wichita forward Beau Starrett scored on the empty net.
This is Carzo’s fifth season with Kansas City. He currently sits in fourth place in franchise history with 65 goals as a Maverick, trailing Dickson, who has 85.
Over the weekend, Schneider’s mother and father, Darren and Darla Schneider, and his girlfriend, Devony Resch, were all on had for the wins as they are visiting from Leduc, Alberta.
“It’s the first time my parents have seen me play as a pro,” said Schneider, who stopped 46 of 49 shots for a 1.50 goals against average in the two wins against the Grizzlies. “To have them and my girlfriend here is really special.”
His performance was special, too.
“Nick has been amazing,” Dickson said after his team won back-to-back games for the first time this season. “The kid is in a zone, and the way he’s playing is inspiring the other guys out on the ice.
“I don’t know how long we’re going to have him down here, but we’re going to enjoy every minute because he is a special player.”
The Grizzlies outshot the Mavericks 17-2 in the opening period. The Mavericks also went three-for-three on the penalty kill in the period.
“A lot of four-on-five hockey that first period,” Schneider said, grinning. “It wasn’t a strong offensive start for our team, getting just two shots on goal, but I wanted to do all I could to keep us in the game.”
The Grizzlies were the first to break through 4:22 into the second period, getting a goal from Taylor Richart.
The Mavericks tied the game at the 8:45 mark of the period, when captain Rocco Carzo found forward Mitch Hults in front of the net and fed him to even the score. Hults got the goal, with Carzo and defenseman Cliff Watson picking up the assists.
Grizzlies defenseman Peter Tischke opened up the third period with a goal at the 3:05 mark.
Mavericks forward Loren Ulett responded 49 seconds later, snapping a shot through Grizzlies goaltender Jeff Smith and tying it 2-2. Forward C.J. Eick picked up an assist on the game-tying goal.
Schueneman, assigned to the Mavericks from American Hockey League affiliate Stockton last week, gave the Mavericks the lead at the 10:33 mark on an end-to-end rush. Hults and Lemos were given assists on the goal.
The Mavericks sealed the game 23 seconds later when veteran forward Darian Dziurzynski scored on assists from Greg Betzold and Zach Osburn to make it 4-2.
The Mavericks killed off all four Utah power plays and have now killed 24 of 25 penalties this season.
“The guys worked hard for me tonight,” Schneider said Saturday, before visiting with his family and girlfriend outside of the locker room. “A lot of guys sacrificed their bodies tonight, diving in the shot lane and that gets me fired up.”