INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Kansas City and Tulsa have proven to be an interesting first round series to keep an eye on in the race for the Kelly Cup. The first two games in Tulsa gave each team a win, but upon coming to Independence, Kansas City took games three and five, with Tulsa capturing game four. This series will be decided by Wednesday, April 24th, with the anticipated winner still being up in the air.

Game Three – 4/17

The Mavericks wanted to give their home crowd something to be excited about in their first playoff game at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena since the 2015-16 season. They did not waste any time as Mark Cooper puts up the first goal of the night only 1:15 into the game. He did not stop there as he was credited with goal number two of the night as well. Interestingly enough, goaltender Mason McDonald also picked up an assist on Cooper’s second of the night.

The second period proved to be all Tulsa production with Stephen Perfetto scoring his third goal of the series, getting one back for Tulsa, and Eric Drapluk scored the tying goal about five minutes later. The first four goals of the game all came on the power play, emphasizing the importance of special teams through this series.

The game-winning goal came 12:06 into the third period when Jared VanWormer was set up by Cooper, who had himself a stellar game, and Nikolas Koberstein. Shots ended 33-28 for Kansas City and both teams took two days to regroup before facing off once again on Friday.

Game Four – 4/19

Tulsa is given the first three penalties of the game, and on the third one Cooper takes advantage of it. The Mavericks lead 1-0 after one thanks to yet another Cooper power-play goal, and Cooper’s line continues to be solid through the second period.

KC would get chance after chance to pull even further ahead but Devin Williams is able to keep the puck in front of him. Stephen Perfetto ties the game up 12:24 into the second period, but captain Rocco Carzo is able to put the Mavericks ahead once again with less than two minutes to go in the second frame.

Kansas City outshot Tulsa through the first two periods but there was a very noticeable momentum shift in the third period. More specifically, in the last ten minutes.

Jared Thomas tied the game up at 2:59 and the Mavericks looked to take back their lead for the third time in this game but were unable to. Adam Pleskach and Alex Dostie scored the second and third unanswered goals of the third period and the Mavericks go into panic mode. Dostie’s goal came as a result of John-Scott Dickson calling McDonald to the bench for the extra attacker, and Tulsa scored an empty net goal soon after. Cooper was able to get one back for the Mavericks with 1:01 to go in regulation but it was not enough to take the game to overtime.

After this disappointing loss, Mavericks Captain, Rocco Carzo, reflected by saying,

“We know this wasn’t going to be easy. We knew we weren’t going to sweep ‘em. This is playoffs. You’re going to have ups and downs. You’re going to win games, you’re going to lose games. The thing I’ve said all year is the great thing about this league is you get them the next night.”

Game Five – 4/20

Was KC’s captain a fortune teller?

Before this game could even get started there were two players in the box as coincidental penalties went to Darian Dziurzynski and Ryan Tesink for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After starting off on such an intense note, the game’s play would have a noticeable physical edge and players were in each other’s faces for the majority of the game. The majority of scoring held off until the second period, however.

VanWormer netted his third goal of the series and about five minutes later, production burst open. Dostie tied the game for Tulsa, but the Mavericks captured their lead back twelve seconds later by a goal from Loren Ulett.

Within the span of 1:05, Tulsa scored its second with Drapluk tying the game up at two, and Kansas City got one back. The dust from this craziness did not settle for long as Corey Durocher puts the Mavericks back on top with skillful stickhandling to beat Williams for the apparent go-ahead goal.

Dziurzynski closed the scoring for the second frame and the Mavericks headed to the locker room for the second intermission with a 4-2 lead.

If the Mavericks have learned anything through this series, it is to not get too comfortable in the third period.

Tulsa answered back early and with gusto when Tanner Kaspick nets one 2:50 into the period. This was actually not the only time the puck crossed the goal line for Tulsa this period, but the second goal of the third was waved off pretty much immediateyl; the referees did review it and the call stood. This goal would become one the Oilers would want back as Kansas City contained its one-goal lead to the very end.

To hold it together and prevent another Tulsa comeback, head coach John-Scott Dickson explained the method to keeping composed in tough games.

“For us, just calm down. I mean it’s a playoff hockey game. Obviously, the emotions are getting high and you want to make sure you’re calm. Make plays. It’s a game.”

With the win, the Mavericks now lead the series 3-2 and will head to Tulsa, Oklahoma for game six on April 23 and game seven (if needed) on April 24. Puck drop will be at 7:05 p.m. CT and in the words of Corey Durocher:

“Tuesday is going to be a huge game for this group and we’re all looking forward to it.”