The biggest game of the season lies ahead for the Kansas City Mavericks, as they play host to Tulsa at 7:05 this evening at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, in Game 3 of the best-of-seven 2019 ECHL Kelly Cup Playoff series.
However, that comment might be a bit deceiving.
“Every game we play throughout the rest of the playoffs will be our biggest game of the season,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said following Tuesday morning’s practice session at SEC Arena. “You look at the previous two games, and they’re what playoff hockey is all about – and we expect the same thing Wednesday.”
The Mavericks overcame 2-0 and 4-2 deficits in Game 1 to claim a 6-4 victory with Jared VanWormer’s winning power-play goal coming late in the third period.
On Sunday, the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead into the midway point of the third period before the Oilers knotted the score and won it 3-2 in overtime.
“We had a much better record at home than we did on the road this season, and we managed to come home from Tulsa with a win,” Dickson said. “Sure, we’d have loved to come home with a 2-0 advantage, but that didn’t happen. So we’re going to go out and play our game Wednesday and use the energy from our crowd to get win No. 2.”
The Mavericks were 24-10-1-1 at home and 12-20-3-1 on the road.
Defensive zone turnovers led to two goals in the 3-2 overtime loss, and that was something that was mentioned – and dealt with – at Tuesday’s practice.
“We scored a goal last Thursday (in the 6-4 win) off a turnover in the D-zone and they did the same thing against us Sunday,” Dickson said. “That was one of the issues we addressed and worked on this morning.
“It’s great to be home for a week, sleep in our own beds, get plenty of rest and hopefully use our home ice to our advantage.”
This will be Dickson’s first playoff game as a coach at SEC Arena. The win last Thursday was his first as a head coach and he is hoping to get No. 2 tonight.
“You can’t look too far ahead,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking forward to the puck drop, the first shift, the first period – all the things we can control. I was a part of a lot of great playoff memories here as a player and an assistant (coach) and I know what our fans mean to our guys. They’re all excited about bringing the playoffs home.”
While the game is on a midweek night, Dickson believes the Orange Army will be out in full force.
“It’s going to be rocking and rolling inside this place,” he said, grinning. “I’m anticipating a Friday or Saturday night vibe in here Wednesday. Our fans have been waiting for this game for a long time – and so have we.”
NO. 100: The Mavericks and Oilers meet for the 100th time in their history tonight. The Mavericks lead the all-time regular series 64-27-2-4 and were 4-3 at home against the Oilers during the regular season.
SENSING A PATTERN: After being one of the Mavericks’ leading scorers in the regular season, Corey Durocher leads the Mavericks with two goals this postseason, scoring a goal in each of the first two games of the series.
MEN IN THE NET: One of the top goaltenders in the ECHL this season, Mason McDonald has stopped 81 of 88 shots this postseason for a .920 save percentage. He will be joined tonight by Nick Schneider, who was reassigned to the Mavericks by the Stockton Heat, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate.
“It’s great to have Nick back,” Dickson said.
McDonald will start tonight’s game in goal.
Schneider has gone 6-3-0 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 11 games with Stockton.
TICKETS AVAILABLE: Playoff tickets for Games 3, 4 and 5 are available now on ticketmaster.com. Faceoff for all games at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena will be 7:05 p.m.