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Mavericks starting to heat up

Reid scores two more goals, rookie Bafia adds first pro goal as Kansas City wins second straight

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – Seconds after rookie Luke Bafia scored his first professional goal late in Monday night’s 5-2 victory over the Utah Grizzlies, teammate Brodie Reid skated over to the net and picked up the puck.

“That was a classy act by a guy who has been scoring a couple of goals a night,” Bafia said by phone as the Mavericks wrapped up a three-game series in Utah by winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.

The two wins helped the Mavericks reach double digits in points for the first time this season as they now own a 4-6-1-1 mark, good for fifth place in the ECHL’s Western Division (three points behind fourth-place Tulsa).

“You could just sense everything coming together the past two games,” added Bafia, who has a place picked out in his parents’ home in Florida for his first pro goal puck. “We’re playing great. And scoring my first professional goal was so cool.

“And Brodie got me that puck, I’ll put it on a rack my grandpa made for me and my folks where we put all my junior and college pucks. This one will be special because it’s the goal from my first score as a professional and we won the game, which makes it even better.”

Over the past two games, the Mavericks have scored seven points in the first period. Slow starts had been a problem for coach Tad O’Had’s squad earlier in the season.

The Mavericks scored three goals in the first period Saturday in a 5-4 win over the Grizzlies and scored four goals in the opening frame Monday night.

Lane Scheidl and Bryan Lemos scored a pair of power play goals, and Reid added a pair of even-strength goals to get the Mavericks off to a 4-0 lead after the first Monday.

“Reid has been on fire,” O’Had said of the veteran forward, who also had an assist on Scheidl’s goal and has 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) in 11 games this season. “And when one guy gets hot, the other guys seem to feed off that.”

Reid was pleased with his performance, but more so the victory.

“They brought me in here to score goals, and I’m happy that’s been scoring in our recent victories,” he said. “It helps to get some momentum early, which was something we weren’t doing early in the season. We came here thinking that we had to take two out of three, and we were able to do that.”

When asked about his gesture towards Bafia, the veteran forward said, “We all knew that was Lukie’s first goal and something like that makes you think back to your early days of playing. He deserved that puck and I was happy to get it for him.”

Utah scored two goals in the second period – one on a shorthanded opportunity – but that was it for the Grizzlies’ offense. Bafia’s late goal sealed the win for the Mavericks, making for a satisfying trip back to Independence.

“We’re playing really well, coming out of the gate fast and our leaders – like Reid and Gio (Giorgio Estephan) and Willie Corrin are doing what leaders do, on and off the ice,” O’Had said. “And this was a big game for Bafia. He’s not playing like a rookie; he’s playing like a veteran player. And you can’t say enough about (goalie Matt) Greenfield.

“Bafia scores his first goal and Greenfield (who stopped 38 of 40 shots on goal) gets his first professional victory. We’re still not quite playing 60 minutes of solid hockey, but the past two games we’ve played enough solid hockey to get back-to-back wins for the first time this season.”