Since C.J. Eick has been elevated to assistant captain’s status on the Kansas City Mavericks, the spark plug forward who proves that good things come in small packages has been on fire.
“C.J. exemplifies everything you want from a captain,” interim coach Kohl Schulz said Friday night after Eick scored two goals in a 5-3 victory over Wichita at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“He’s played like this all season. It’s been a disappointing season, but there are a lot of games left to play and everyone is hoping we can get some momentum after a big win like this.”
The win helps the Mavericks inch closer and closer out of the ECHL Mountain Division cellar as they are now 20-24-3-1 (44 points) while sixth-place Wichita is 19-24-8-0 (46 points).
“One game at a time,” captain Rocco Carzo said after recording a career-high four assists. “We played a solid 60 minutes tonight. This is the type of hockey we should have been playing all season. We’re fighting for a playoff berth and if we keep playing like this, that’s going to happen.”
Tad Kozun started the game with a goal at 17:50 to give the Mavericks an early lead. He was assisted by Malcom Hayes and Carzo.
Wichita’s Patrik Parkkonen then scored with just 21 seconds left on the clock to make it 1-1 going into the second period.
Eick scored his first goal at 2:29, off assists from Derek Pratt and Kozun, and Matt Schmalz followed with a goal at 9:38. He was assisted by Zach Osburn and Carzo.
Kozun scored his second goal at 18:29 and was assisted by Terrance Amorosa and Carzo to make it 4-1.
But the Wings weren’t ready to roll over and accept the road loss. Billy Exell and Stefan Fournier scored back-to-back goals to make it a 4-3 game early in the third period.
That’s when Eick scored perhaps the biggest goal of the night when he slipped the puck past Dylan Wells to give the Mavericks a 5-3 lead, which accounted for the final score.
“This is a big win, for sure,” Eick said. “We’re playing as a team, we’re playing for each other and good things are going to come from that. We have a lot of respect for Kohl and he’s doing a great job since he came in as the (interim) coach.
“We’re not about to give up on this season, and the way our fans responded to us tonight, neither are they.”
The Mavericks’ all-around solid performance inspired goalie Nick Schneider.
“The guys were on fire tonight,” said Schneider, who stopped 24 of 27 shots on goal. “This is a game – a win – we can build on. This was a good night, maybe one of our best games of the season.”
The Mavericks play host to longtime rival Allen at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at SEC Arena.