INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Adam Carlson‘s story this season has been unique, to say the least. He started the season with the South Carolina Stingrays, before getting hurt, then becoming somewhat of a nomad, before ultimately finding a home with the Kansas City Mavericks.
Entering Tuesday night’s contest with the Wichita Thunder, the final contest between the two clubs during the regular season, Carlson compiled a 4-1-2-0 record and was coming off an 8-0 shutout drubbing of the hapless Quad City Mallards on Sunday afternoon. With all the goaltending shuffling that has gone on in Independence this year, it is safe to say Carlson’s stability in net is one of the reasons why the Mavericks remain in position to clinch their second ECHL playoff berth.
Wichita, meanwhile, has been perfectly inconsistent in the season’s second half, essentially playing .500 hockey as they scuffle towards a playoff berth. But, Wichita has had a great amount of success against the Mavericks this season, going 5-1-2 against the Mavericks this year. Tuesday night’s contest in President Truman’s hometown would be the first between the two teams in three months.
After a scoreless first, Wichita had a great chance to take the lead in the second. Greg Betzold was sent off for a high stick at 8:27 of the middle period. Seven seconds later, Shawn Pauly sent the puck into the stands, giving the Thunder a five-on-three power play. Wichita couldn’t convert on the two-man advantage and were forced to kill a penalty right after as Jeremy Beaudry was called for interference. Jared VanWormer made it 1-0 on the power play when he outmuscled Travis Brown for a rebound that came off the toe of Shane Starrett and put a backhand past him for his 17th of the year. For Kansas City, it was their second power-play goal all year against Wichita in 31 chances.
Just 18 seconds into the third, Mark MacMillan raced up the right side and beat Carlson to tie the game at one. The goal snapped Carlson’s shutout streak at 100:18.
From there, the Mavericks tightened up defensively again and continued the shot barrage on Starrett. Pauly re-gained the lead for the Mavericks at 3:36 when he found a rebound near the net and slid it past Starrett to make it 2-1. Mark Cooper increased the lead to 3-1 at 6:59, firing a shot from a sharp angle that got through Starrett.
With the win, Carlson improves to 5-1-2-0 with the Mavericks, and creates an interesting conundrum for head coach John-Scott Dickson, does he develop rookie netminders Mason MacDonald and Tyler Parsons or does he ride the hot-hand in Carlson? One thing is certain, it is a very crowded net in Mavericks’ country.
The win moves the Mavericks back into the top four in the Central Division, two points ahead of Kalamazoo. For Wichita, the game was a golden opportunity to expand the gap Allen and Tulsa for fourth in the Mountain Division, and they could not. The Thunder sits four points clear of those two teams, who play tonight at the Allen Event Center.