The Wichita Thunder and Missouri Mavericks hooked up for the first of a home-and-home series at INTRUST Bank Arena Friday night.
Goaltenders David Shantz and Josh Robinson were the stars of the show for the first two periods, as the two combined to stop 37 shots through the first 40 minutes of play.
The scoreless tie was broken 53 seconds into the third period when Jesse Root fed a pass to a streaking Tyler Barnes, who beat Shantz, and gave Missouri a 1-0 lead.
“Going into the third period, I think we let up a little bit. Quick goals happen in the third period, but I think we got a little down on ourselves (after the first goal) and the next thing you know its 2, 3-0,” said Thunder assistant captain Dan Milan. “We weren’t there to help him (Thunder goaltender David Shantz) enough early in the 3rd.”
“We know we have better,” Milan added.
The turning point in the game for Wichita came early in the second period, when the team had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:33 and were not able to capitalize.
“We should probably get better opportunities than we got — it was a lengthy one too. Especially when its a 0-0 game, you like that opportunity, but we didn’t generate nothing. Scorers gotta score,” said Thunder head coach Kevin McClelland. “Maybe we’ll move a couple guys around and get some chemistry. Don’t forget we’ve got a lot of new guys and trying to find the right situation and combination for those guys,” McClelland added.
Missouri added to their lead just 24 seconds later when Colin Markison fired a puck from the top of the circles to give the Mavericks a 2-0 lead. The final goal came just over six minutes later, when Kellen Jones scored his first of the season to expand the lead to 3-0.
That was all Mavericks goaltender Josh Robinson needed, as he stopped all of Wichita’s 27 offerings enroute to his second shutout of the young season. In the process, he lowered his goals against average to a microscopic .33 and his save percentage is now up to .988.
“I gotta give lots of credit to the guys around me. They’re making me see every shot, clearing rebounds when I do allow them and I think this is some of the best hockey I’ve seen this team play since I’ve been here since the middle of last season,” Robinson said.
Even with the win, Mavericks head coach Richard Matvichuk felt his team needed to work at limiting odd-man rushes and the turnovers, but looked forward to coming home to open the season tonight at Silverstein Ice Centers Arena. “It’s a good chance to show our young players what the Orange Army is all about,” Matvichuk said.
On the other side, McClelland highlighted several areas that needed improving. “We gotta be cleaner in the neutral zone, more sustained forecheck and more possession time in the offensive zone. We gotta be aware of our surroundings out there.”
The Thunder fell to 2-1-0 (4 points) in the midwest division, while Missouri (3-1-0 ) is tied with Allen atop the division with 6 points.
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