INDEPENDENCE, Mo.- The Kansas City Mavericks held on through 60-minutes of hard-hitting, fast-paced hockey to defeat the Wheeling Nailers 3-0 on Friday night. Though the game saw a total of 57 penalty minutes, the Mavericks showed the crowd of 2,691 that they aren’t just good for fighting.
The penalties started early and often, with the first one coming at just 40 seconds into the first period. Kansas City defenseman Marcus Crawford was called for delay of game when he let the puck sail into the crowd. The Mavericks penalty kill easily ran the penalty out.
Then, at 3:08, Loren Ulett was checked from behind by Alex Stevens. Wheeling cleared the puck off the faceoff, but soon after, at 3:47, Lane Scheidl scored a power-play goal to put the Mavericks up 1-0. Scheidl was assisted by Nick Pastujov and Bryan Lemos.
At this point, Ulett had been throwing heavy hit after heavy hit, and tensions were starting to rise. After nearly every whistle, there was pushing and shoving. Then, at 7:57, Ulett got tangled up with Tyler Drevitch and Adam Smith. Some punches were thrown, but it was ultimately broken up, and both Ulett and Drevitch were assessed roughing penalties.
In the ensuing 4-on-4, the Mavericks started to play a little bit passively. Wheeling established some zone presence during the 2-minute 4-on-4, but Mavericks goaltender Angus Redmond was up to the task. Redmond faced several high danger shots in the first period, including one that resulted in a very juicy rebound. Luckily, Redmond’s defensive partners were there to scuttle the puck away.
At 12:19, Ryan Harrison was assessed a roughing penalty. They managed to kill this penalty, but coming out of the PK, the Mavericks started to play quite tentatively. That was until Wheeling’s Nick Hutchison threw some gnarly cross-checks against Ulett. Loren threw a few back, and then the donnybrook was on. Hutchison quickly realized his mistake as Ulett is a tough customer. After Loren took Hutchison down, they were both sent to the dressing room. Hutchison had a few words for Redmond as they were leaving, and Ulett did his part to rile up the crowd.
The remainder of the period saw the Mavericks drift back into sloppy defensive play. Wheeling was able to enter the Mavericks’ zone with relative impunity and establish strong offensive pressure. But again, Angus Redmond was there to stop the puck. When the horn sounded on the first period, the score was 1-0 in favor of Kansas City. Kansas City was also leading in shots on goal, 8-7.
The second period started with an extended series of icing calls on both teams. As a result, it took a good minute before some sustained back-and-forth play could get going.
Wheeling came out flying off the draw, no doubt trying to adjust to the Mavericks’ late first-period passivity. At 4:14 Kansas City defenseman Willie Corrin was called for hooking. The Nailers did everything they could on this power play to stuff the puck behind Angus Redmond, but the backstop remained strong in his net.
A few moments after the Mavericks killed Corrin’s hooking penalty, there was an odd-man rush, and Mavericks forward Ryan Olsen made a beautiful cross-crease feed to Harrison, who just barely missed the net. After this attempt, Harrison and Wheeling forward Jared Cockrell started pushing and shoving each other. Everybody piled into the scrum, but nothing ended up coming out of it.
Then at 7:56, pandemonium broke loose. Wheeling forward Shaw Boomhower slashed Olsen, and then Josh Maniscalco held Olsen. In retaliation, Olsen speared Maniscalco. Olsen was assessed a major penalty for spearing and a game misconduct. Maniscalco and Boomhower were also called for their transgressions, and the Mavericks were on the power play.
As the referees sorted out the penalties, one of Wheeling’s players took exception to the camera in the penalty box and tried to obstruct it with his stick. This earned him a shower of boos from the crowd.
The ensuing power play took a while to develop. The Mavericks established zone presence quickly but cycled the puck for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the Mavericks started producing some shots. The first one went high; another went wide. Then Pastujov let a shot sail, and as he was tripped up on his follow-through, the puck trickled past Wheeling goalie Tommy Nappier.
The Mavericks were now up 2-0. Harrison and Bryan Lemos assisted on that power-play goal which came at 9:30 of the period.
At 10:51, Ulett was called for a unique penalty since his helmet came off, having just been knocked down. Instead of skating straight to the bench as the rules require, Ulett threw a cross-check at the player who knocked him down. With the referee right behind him, the arm went up immediately.
The Mavericks were still serving the residual time of the major penalty against Ryan Olsen, so this put the Mavericks in a 5-on-3 penalty kill situation. This was when Redmond took his game to another level, stopping a flurry of high danger chances. The Mavericks ended up killing the 5-on-3 Nailers man advantage.
Shortly after the Mavericks returned to full strength, Wheeling forward Matt Alfaro was called for tripping at 13:28. The Mavericks quickly put a shot on goal, which was deflected into the mesh. Then, after another faceoff, they put another shot on goal, which Nappier cleared. The clearing attempt led to a shorthanded breakaway. But Redmond had no fear and blanked the Wheeling player.
The remainder of the period would see some hard skating but ultimately fruitless back and forth play from both teams. The Mavericks would end the period on the power play after Jake Smith was high sticked on a rush.
After two periods, Kansas City led 2-0. Shots on goal were tied at 17 shots per team.
After two periods of high tension, the third period was a bit of an anti-climax. The Mavericks began the period on the power play, but they never got it rolling, and Wheeling easily killed it. A couple of penalties were called early on, including a high stick against Crawford. Shortly after that was called, Hutchison was also called for high sticking. The resulting 4-on-4 saw both teams playing very sloppily in all three zones.
One player who stood out in the third period was Smith. He was very fast on his skates and used his speed to his advantage throughout the period. He beat out an icing call and was quick to get back to the backcheck when needed.
But perhaps the best individual performance of the third period came late in the period when Mavericks defenseman Tommy Muck cleared a puck out of Redmond’s crease just millimeters before it crossed the goal line.
Shortly after this, with about two minutes to go in regulation, Wheeling pulled their goaltender. They were able to produce a couple shots with the extra attacker, but ultimately the Mavericks wrested the puck away. Clearing to center ice, Lane Scheidl picked up the puck and skated it in for an empty-net goal to put the Mavericks up 3-0. Assists on this empty netter came from Darik Angeli and Harrison. And with that, the game came to an end.
Coming into this game, it was tough to tell how these two teams would match up. Wheeling had only played two games coming into this game. They had shown some physicality in their contest on Wednesday night against the Iowa Heartlanders, so it was not totally surprising that this game was a physical battle. What was surprising was the level of vitriol and perceived hatred between these two teams who only play each other once this season.
One has to love the spark and passion that Ulett brings to the table. While the physical role is nothing new to Ulett, he seems to be on a longer leash this season. This is both good and bad. It is good because he brings grit to the Mavericks that is very much a part of the game plan and strategy. But it is bad because he can sometimes get a bit carried away and get his team into penalty trouble. It didn’t come back to bite them tonight, but Ulett needs to look out in the future to make sure he is not taking costly, unnecessary penalties.
The three stars of the game were Scheidl, Pastujov, and Redmond. Redmond stopped 31 shots to earn his first shutout of the season. Pastujov had two points (1g,1a) and six shots on goal in the game. And finally, Scheidl had two goals.
The Mavericks bounced back very well from a disappointing loss on Wednesday night. Their record is now 2-2-0.
The Mavericks are next in action next Saturday, November 6th, when they host their bitter rival, the Allen Americans.
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