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Mavericks give O'Had his first win as coach

By Bill Althaus
Mavericks forward Giorgio Estpehan, right, celebrates his third-period goal with Brodie Reid in a 4-1 win over Tulsa on New Year's Eve,

Rob Bordson was on a mission.

As the final seconds ticked off the Cable Dahmer Arena scoreboard on New Year's Eve, the Kansas City Mavericks captain was looking for the game puck, as the team rewarded first-year coach Tad O'Had with his first victory with the ECHL team.

The Mavericks came out strong in the first period, claiming a 2-0 lead, and never lost that momentum as they dominated Tulsa 4-1 in front of socially distanced and supportive sold-out crowd.

"This isn't just a win," said Bordson, who scored a goal less than a minute after the Oilers scored their lone goal of the game in the second period, "this is a validation that everything coach and Kohl (Schultz, assistant coach) have been working so hard on is going to work.

"And this past week was the first week we've had the whole team on the ice at practice. In a lot of ways, this early in the season, it still feels like preseason. We're still learning about each other, but I think what you saw tonight is a preview of what everyone will be seeing the rest of this season."

O'Had and Schultz missed the first game because they were on the commissioner's exempt list, and it was easy to tell that his first win meant something to the man who has the blueprint for the rest of this season.

"It was a great first win, and the guys went out and followed up on everything we have been working on – this week, and the entire season," O'Had said. "I was really happy with our defense tonight and Andrew Shortridge was outstanding in the net for the second game in a row (he lost 3-1 to Wichita last week, but one goal was a late empty netter)."

O'Had has talked about the importance of coming out strong and playing a full 60 minutes.

"And that's what we did tonight, with the exception of about five or six minutes in the second period," O'Had said. "We had a little stretch where Tulsa kind of took over and cut our lead to 2-1, and Rob came up with one of the biggest goals of the game.

"And the way Shortridge was playing, you could feel the guys feed off him, knowing he was going to take care of business in the net."

Loren Ulett gave the Mavericks a 1-0 lead at 9:03 of the first period off an assist from Giorgio Estephan. 

Lane Scheidl made it 2-0 on assists by Brodie Reid and Estephan at 10:21.

The only blemish on Shortridge's 30-save night came at 12:52 of the second period when Ian McNulty cut the deficit to 2-1.

But Bordson redirected a shot by Reid into the back of the net at 13:54 and the Mavericks never looked back.

Estephan made it a 3-point night as he scored at 6:06 of the third period on assists by Bryan Lemos and Scheidl. 

"The best thing about tonight was getting the win, and then getting the game puck and giving it to Tad after the game," Bordson said. "We all gave it to him together and he got a little emotional. 

"We all know what this game means to him, what our team and this organization means to him, and it was great to hand him that puck."

When asked about getting the game puck, O'Had said, "That was nice. But we have a long way to go. I'm just happy for the guys to see all their hard work pay off tonight in front of a great crowd at home."