Mavericks close gap on final playoff spot despite loss

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah  – When Jared VanWormer scored the game winning goal Friday night in a heart-stopping 2-1 victory over the Utah Grizzlies, goalie Matt Greenfield immediately looked at the Maverik Center scoreboard clock.

"I wasn't thinking, I was just screaming, then I look at the clock and there are 11 seconds left," Greenfield, who stopped 40 of 41 shots on goal, said by phone. "I thought, 'Let's get to work the last 11 seconds and enjoy these two points.'"

The Mavericks beat Utah 5-4 in overtime Wednesday and claimed the regulation win Friday to pick up four points and gain three points in the standings as the Grizzlies gained a point for the Wednesday night overtime loss.

"We lose those four games in Allen last week and it shows how dedicated our guys are, how we believe in the process and how we're never going to give up," added Greenfield, who stepped into a starting role when Matt Ginn was unable to play.

"We're ready for anything and now we have to get two more points Saturday and make this a six-point series."

That didn't happen, as the Grizzlies rallied for a 4-1 victory, their lone win in the three-game set. Darik Angeli scored the Mavericks' lone goal. Greenfield was in the net for Kansas City.

However, the two wins in Utah took a bit of the sting away from the series in Allen.

In Friday's game, VanWormer said he was just on the receiving end of a pinpoint accurate pass from Angeli.

"I'd just come off the bench and got a great pass from Angeli and was able to put it in the back of the net," VanWormer said. "It just shows you we play till the end of the clock for three periods. This was a big win and now we have to go out and get that weekend sweep tomorrow."

The Grizzlies took an early lead on an A.J. White goal at 4:23 of the second period. Kansas City's Phil Marinaccio knotted it 1-1 when he scored on an unassisted goal at 17:13 of the second.

VanWormer then boosted the Mavericks to a needed win in regulation with the game-winner at 19:49.

"Let me tell you, that was a game," coach Tad O'Had said after his team improved to 22-20-6-2 and now stand just one point behind the Grizzlies (53-52) for fourth place in the ECHL’s Western Division.

"When we brought Jared VanWormer in here, we knew he was a great player and he showed that tonight. But he is such a solid guy in the locker room – and I could go down the roster and list guy after guy after guy who have made a big impact on this team," said O'Had, whose team won despite a 41-35 disadvantage in shots on goal.

"They're never going to give up. And with Matt (Greenfield) and Ginner (Matt Ginn) we have the best tandem in the league. This is the second time this season Ginner was going to start and we had to bring in Matt (Greenfield) and we won a game like this."

With the loss Saturday, the 21-21-6-2 Mavericks have 50 points and are in seventh place in the Western Division, trailing Utah and Tulsa, who each have 53 points, and Rapid City with 52.

"We've been on the road a long time," Greenfield said, "and it's going to be good to get home."

The Mavericks host Wichita at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Cable Dahmer Arena.