INDEPENDENCE, MO – Saturday night was a big night for Thunder head coach Kevin McClelland, who was coaching in his 700th regular-season game.
It did not take long for the Missouri Mavericks to give McClelland and his Thunder squad a rude welcome for the second straight game.
Tanner Fritz made it 1-0 at 8:56 with a shot from the top of the left circle. Rocco Carzo made it 2-0 roughly four minutes later during a net-mouth scramble.
Carzo added another at 7:44 of the second as he found a loose puck in the crease after Jesse Root fired one towards Thunder goaltender Grant Rollheiser.
Wichita got on the board with six minutes left in the middle frame when Ian Lowe stole a puck at the top of the right circle, came in from the hashmarks all alone. As he took a shot on net, he was blasted into the cage by defenseman CJ Ludwig. The goal judge deemed the puck had gone into the net before the two players did and the goal stood, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Lowe added his second of the game just 36 seconds into the third with a shorthanded breakaway marker for this ninth of the season. His goal cut the lead to 3-2, but it was short-lived. Tyler Barnes and Jesse Root scored five minutes apart to re-gain the Mavericks’ three-goal lead.
Missouri would go on to win the game 5-2. With the win, the Mavericks became the first team in the ECHL to break the 70-point plateau. They also hold a nine-point lead over the Florida Everblades in the race for the Brabham Cup (league’s regular-season title) and a 16-point cushion over the Utah Grizzlies for the Western Conference regular season title. Mavericks goaltender Josh Robinson made 22 saves, as he improves on his ECHL record for consecutive wins, which is now at 18.
Wichita went 0-2 on the power play, while Missouri went 0-4.
McClelland’s career coaching record is 373-259-69. His Thunder squad returns to action on Friday night when the Colorado Eagles come to INTRUST Bank Arena.
Check out John Howe’s photo gallery of last night’s game, here: https://thesinbin.net/photos-missouri-mavericks-vs-wichita-thunder-013016/