Mavericks feed off crowd's energy for another win over Utah
Orange Army, take a bow, because coach Tad O'Had and his players all wanted to thank the enthusiastic crowd at Cable Dahmer Arena Friday night.
The Mavericks said they played a big role as Adam Brady scored two goals to lead the Kansas City Mavericks to a 5-2 come-from-behind win over the Utah Grizzlies.
"When we recruited players to come to Kansas City, we talked about the Orange Army and sold-out buildings and they are finally able to see what we were talking about," O'Had said after a socially distanced sell-out of 2,163 had the home joint rocking, despite a slow scoreless start after one period.
"You could hear the guys talking about the crowd, and how pumped up they were by all our fans,” O’Had said. “It's such a shame it all happened so late in the season."
While the Mavericks are no longer in the hunt for a playoff spot, they can make sure the Grizzlies don't clinch the fourth and final ECHL Western Conference postseason berth.
"We can be the spoilers," O'Had said. "We beat them 5-2 Thursday and beat them again 5-2 tonight and we're hoping for a big crowd on Saturday night when we wrap up our three-game series with Utah. You can tell our guys are fired up. We wish it would have come sooner in the season, but it didn't, so we're going to do everything we can to make the final week special for the best fans in the ECHL."
Utah proved lightning can strike twice as Garrett Johnson scored at 2:07 of the second period and Ty Lewis followed with a goal at 2:35 to give the Grizzlies a quick 2-0 lead. They are a win away from clinching a postseason berth.
But Andrew Shortridge, who was brilliant in goal all night, kept the Grizzlies from scoring the rest of the game while the Mavericks' offense was just getting started.
Brady scored his first goal at 18:02 of the second period to get the comeback kick-started. Bryan Lemos, who assisted on Brady’s goal along with Koletrane Wilson, tied the game at 2-2 with a goal just 24 seconds later with assists from Brady and Wilson.
“Goals came in bunches tonight," Brad said. "I have to say that we were energized by the electric crowd in the building tonight. When you're down 2-0 you need some energy from your fans, and we got that all night long."
Lane Scheidl made sure his 100th career ECHL goal was meaningful as he scored the eventual game-winner at 10:58 of the third period on assists from Darik Angeli and Brady.
"A beefy one off the shins, but I'll take it," Scheidl said of redirecting Angeli’s shot into the net. "It's great to reward our fans with two big wins at home late in the season. I wish they were helping us reach the playoffs, but we have not had the success at home we'd hoped for and we're thrilled to give our fans something to cheer about."
Jared VanWormer scored just 26 seconds later on an assist from Boston Leier. Just 1:18 later, Brady wrapped up the big third period with his second goal at 12:42 on assists from Scheidl and Lemos.
"I've been lucky enough to play here three seasons, and I know what our fans mean to us on and off the ice, and we've finally been able to give them something to cheer about," VanWormer said. "They're the best fans in the league and the guys are finally seeing what they mean to the team.
"The guys who come back next year are really going to get to experience our fans in what we hope will be a regular season with no restrictions."
Because he is a longtime Mavericks player, VanWormer wanted to thank former team president and general manager Brent Thiessen, who parted ways with the team Thursday.
"Brent signed me out of college, gave me the opportunity to play professional hockey, and I will always be thankful to him for that," VanWormer said. "When things quiet down a bit, I want to reach out to him to thank him and let him know what he means to me."
In Thursday's 5-2 win, VanWormer, Rob Bordson, Brodie Reid, Leier and Willie Corrin scored for the Mavericks.
"Everyone is getting the job done over the last two games," O'Had said after his team reached the .500 mark at 29-29-8-2. "It's like winning by committee. When guys take care of their own responsibilities, good things happen."