Mavericks bounce back with OT win
With one radar-like shot off the stick of Brodie Reid and stellar goaltending by Matt Greenfield, the Kansas City Mavericks found a way to play the type of hockey that coach Tad O'Had believes will help them get back in the playoff hunt.
O’Had’s Mavericks had suffered two of the most disappointing and costly losses of the season – 6-1 Thursday and 7-6 in overtime Friday to the visiting Wichita Thunder.
Despite those setbacks that stole costly points in the standings, O'Had remained confident and diligent as his Mavericks played host to Wichita for a third straight night at Cable Dahmer Arena. The result was an exhilarating 3-2 overtime win Saturday night that the coach and his players believe can create momentum for an upcoming road swing to Rapid City this weekend.
Reid scored the game-winner at 5:36 of overtime on assists from Adam Brady and Willie Corrin.
"We can definitely carry the momentum from tonight into next weekend at Rapid City," said Greenfield, who has started 10 of the last 12 games and seven in a row as Matt Ginn remains on the injured reserve list. "When a player is injured, the next guy has to step up. And in our case, that next guy is me and the guys on the team really came through for me tonight.
"... We have the best fans in the league, and after those two tough losses, they came back out tonight to inspire us and support us and that means so much to everyone on the team."
O'Had, who called the Thursday and Friday night losses "embarrassing," said his team played the kind of hockey he has been seeking all season.
"When we play structurally sound hockey, you get a result like tonight's win," said O'Had, after the Mavericks improved to 22-22-7-2 and moved up to sixth place with 53 points. "We played smart, disciplined hockey, we were defensive-minded and we got a big game in the net from Greenfield.
"We didn't do anything fancy, and I am so proud of the way we played the entire game, but especially the way we played the third period."
In the previous two losses, the Mavericks allowed three goals in each third period. Saturday night, they held the Thunder scoreless in the third.
"Look, I don't want our guys on a roller coaster all season,” O’Had added. “I want them to remain diligent and want them to keep working hard, but we can take the momentum of this game and a three-point weekend against Wichita to Rapid City.
"This was not our biggest win of the season – the biggest win of the season is still down the road – because every series, every game we play from here on out is going to have a playoff atmosphere to it."
Nearly lost in Reid's heroics were two goals by Bryan Lemos that allowed the game to go into overtime.
"Everyone knows about our last two losses, and we knew we had to come out and play hard, and play smart, and we did," said Lemos, who scored just 1:55 into the first period and with just 43 seconds left in the second period to tie it. "I was in the right place at the right time and got a couple of great passes from my teammates (Adam Brady, Darik Angeli) to get those goals and now, we have to carry this momentum into Rapid City next weekend."
Reid, who leads the Mavericks with 51 points, directed the attention to his teammates after the game-winning shot at 5:36 of overtime.
"This was just a great team win, and it proves we can compete against the best teams in the league when we play the type of hockey we played tonight," Reid said. "I got a pass from (Adam) Brady and kind of flubbed it at first, then I just flicked it to the net and scored.
"It was great to have a big win like this at home. Our fans deserved it after the last two games. And in the end, we have a three-point weekend and some momentum going to Rapid City next weekend."
The Mavericks (.500), with 53 points, trail fourth-place Utah (.548) by four points and fifth-place Rapid City (.547) by five. Winning percentage is being used to determine place because Fort Wayne (in first place at .667) has played only 33 games and the other six teams in the Western Conference have played 51 or more.
The Mavericks improved to 8-11-6-0 at home.