The Kansas City Mavericks had a chance Friday to pull even with the Tulsa Oilers or Wichita Thunder for sixth place and move within six points of fourth place, the final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Mountain Division.
They just needed a fourth straight win at home.
Mission not accomplished.
Not only was Tulsa roaring to a 7-1 win over the Thunder, the Mavericks came out flat against the second-place Utah Grizzlies, falling behind 5-0 on the way to a 5-1 loss at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
It didn’t help that some sickness was going around too.
"Our engagement level and commitment to structure was not where it needed to be to start the game," Mavericks interim head coach Kohl Schultz said. "Full well understanding we have an illness going around the team, we still need to do a better job of being mentally engaged when things begin going sideways and orchestrate our pushback. Second period was similar to the first. We lost the battle of slowing them down in transition."
David Dziurzynski scored off assists from Matt Schmalz and Loren Ulett at the 10:11 mark of the third period, but the Mavericks failed to make up the difference and fell four points behind the Oilers and remained two behind Wichita in last place in the division.
The Grizzlies struck early when Ryan Wagner beat Mavericks goalie Nick Schneider at the 3:31 mark of the first period. Just less than three minutes later, Josh Anderson scored to make it 2-0 Utah.
Josh Dickinson tallied two goals in a three-goal second period for Utah – the first on a power play at the 5:15 mark and the second an even-strength goal with just 46 seconds left. Yuri Terao scored in between at 9:10 to give the Grizzlies (28-15-5-2) a commanding lead entering the final period.
The Mavericks showed some life in the final period, and Dziurzynski’s 10th goal of the season avoided the shutout as the Mavericks dropped to 22-24-3-1 (48 points).
"Third period, I thought we got back to our game but it shouldn’t take being down 5-0 to find it," Schultz said. "End of the day, we have to evaluate tonight’s game at face value but then put it in the rear view. Tomorrow is a good test for us and we’re fortunate to get another crack at Utah."
The Mavericks meet the Grizzlies again at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Utah, which was 1 of 2 on power plays, held a 33-28 advantage in shots on goal and committed only one minor penalty.