Independence, MO – The last quarterfinal series to open play in the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs certainly did not disappoint as the Brabham Cup Champion Missouri Mavericks hosted the eighth-seeded Quad City Mallards on Saturday night.
The Mavericks won all five regular season matchups between the two teams, but the slate is wiped clean in the postseason, and Quad City wanted to quickly show that they were more than up for the task of taking down the best team in the ECHL in the regular season.
Quad City would open the scoring as Matt Carey deflected a shot from Darren McMillan that beat Mavericks goalie Josh Robinson. Quad City would continue to fire shot after shot at the Mavericks’ cage, racking up 21 shots on goal in the opening frame. The Mavericks would tie the game at the 9:24 mark of the first period as Andrew Courtney fought off the Mallard defense and stuffed the puck past Mallard goalie Brody Hoffman. The Mavericks would take their first lead of the game less than five minutes later as Tyler Barnes redirected a shot from the point to make it 2-1 Mavericks. Quad City would get an equalizer of their own as Carey would net his second goal of the period, off a beautiful cross-ice feed from Vladimir Nikiforov. The first period would end with the two teams tied at two goals a piece.
The Mallards would retake their lead early in the second period, as a shot from Carey ricocheted off of Jordan Knackstedt and past Robinson to make it 3-2 Quad City. That would be all the offense that Quad City could muster on this night. The rest of the game belonged to the Mavericks. Andrew Courtney would get his second of the night to tie the game at three on a goal that took some conferencing between the officials before a verdict was reached. Courtney fired a wrister that bested Hoffman and went through the net behind him. After the confusion was sorted out, the officials ruled that the goal would count. Mavericks defenseman Zach Tolkinen would score the eventual game-winner on an even weirder goal later in the frame as he lofted what seemed to be a harmless wrister towards Hoffman from the point. The Mallards netminder appeared to snare the shot with his glove, but the puck bounced out of his glove and into his own net giving the Mavs a 4-3 lead.
The Mavericks would clamp down defensively on the Mallards in the third period, holding Quad City to just six shots on goal, after the Mallards pelted Robinson with 35 shots through the first 40 minutes of play. Chris Owens and Josh Holmstrom would both add empty-net goals late in the frame, and the Mavericks would skate away with a 6-3 victory to take Game One in the Best of Seven series.
Game Two is Sunday at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. Faceoff is at 4:05pm.