Mavericks move up with pair of wins

By Bill Althaus
Kansas City Mavericks forward Nick Pastujov, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring an insurance goal in the third period of a 3-1 win over the Tulsa Oilers Saturday at Cable Dahmer Arena.

The Kansas City Mavericks weren’t able to give coach Tad O’Had a victory on his 41st birthday Friday night, but they did the next best thing.

The Mavericks edged the Tulsa Oilers 3-1 Saturday night at Cable Dahmer Arena on Heroes Night, in which each player wore a special jersey honoring a frontline worker who has made such an impact during the pandemic.

The teams then traveled Sunday to Tulsa, where the Mavericks scored their first goal just 25 seconds into the first period and went on to claim one of their most lopsided wins of the season, routing the Oilers 5-2 after building a 5-0 lead.

One of the best parts of Sunday’s win was that ECHL scoring leader Brodie Reid had an assist, while five different teammates scored goals.

“It’s so important to share the goal scoring and to not depend as much on Brodie,” O’Had said by phone Sunday before the team boarded its bus and headed back to Independence. “We got that early goal (by Kris Myllari) and we just kept going from there. It was great. You know, when you look at the game sheets there have only been a couple of games we were really out of this season.”

Lane Scheidl, Adam Brady, Luke Bafia and Darik Angeli also netted even-strength goals for the Mavericks, who took a 3-0 lead into the third period. Bafia scored at 4:16 of the third and Angeli notched his goal just 23 seconds later for the 5-0 lead. Angeli, Bryan Lemos and newcomer Nick Pastuov each tallied two assists.

Tulsa’s Brent Gates and Kyle Jenkins scored just 22 seconds apart, the last at 12:03, but Mavericks goalie Matt Ginn shut the Oilers down the rest of the way.

“This is a good team, and the guys play hard every night and it’s great to see them rewarded with two big wins this weekend,” O’Had said of his Mavericks, who improved to 11-12-3-1 and moved into fifth place past the Oilers with a better winning percentage (.481 to .466), though the Oilers lead 27-26 on points. “Three games in three nights is tough – tough on the guys and tough on the coach. We’re all going to enjoy the ride back home and get back to work this week.”

The Mavericks return to action at 6:05 p.m. Friday against the Indy Fuel at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

The Oilers scored two goals in the third, but never seriously challenged the Mavs as Ginn won for the second night in a row. He stopped 40 of 42 shots on goal, after stopping 22 of 23 shots in Saturday’s win and had an assist on Reid’s first goal at the 16:48 mark of the first period.

After Tulsa tied it at the 2:50 mark of the second period on a goal by Vincent Marleau, Marcus Crawford notched the game-winner at 11:02 of the second on assists from Scheidl and Zach Osburn.

Pastujov, on the second assists of the game by Angeli and Scheidl, added an insurance goal at 16:10 of the third period, helping to ease a bit of the pain from Friday night’s 3-1 setback.

“The loss Friday was tough, but for these guys to rebound and get two big wins – with one on the road – shows what they are made of,” O’Had said. “There’s a lot of season left and I’m excited to see what we can do. We’re playing well right now and you could see the confidence grow today and Saturday.”