INDEPENDENCE, MO – If you listened to The Sin Bin Mavericks Pregame show Friday night, one of the things my cohorts Ryan Gibson and Joe Rozycki gave as a key to the game was how goaltender Stephon Williams would rebound from a shaky outing last Saturday against Tulsa.
It was almost as if Williams was listening to us.
The rookie goaltender stopped 22 Thunder shots and improved to 2-2-1 on the season, as the Mavericks defeated Wichita 2-1 Friday night.
Missouri got off to a quick start, scoring two goals in the opening ten minutes of the contest. Jesse Root got the scoring going just 63 seconds in as he went bar-down on David Shantz for his 20th goal of the season to give Missouri a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Bryce Aneloski — back from a call-up to the Mavs’ AHL affiliate — fired a one-time shot by Shantz to expand the Mavericks lead to 2-0.
From there, the Thunder found their legs, outshooting Missouri 5-1 in the final six minutes of the first period.
The second period was relatively uneventful, until Michael Neal put a rebound from a Kale Kerbashian shot by Williams to cut the Mavericks lead to 2-1. The goal was Neal’s fifth goal of the season and the assist by Kerbashian was his 12th point in 11 games while wearing a Thunder sweater.
Wichita had several chances down the stretch to pull even. The best one came with less than a minute to go as Andy Huff caught a centering feed right on the doorstep from Kerbashian, but was stopped by Williams.
Neal extended his point-streak to three games (1g, 2a). Shantz takes the loss, stopping 23 of 25 shots.
Missouri improves its season record against Wichita to 11-0-0-0 and holds a 15-point lead over the Allen Americans in the race for the Central Division title and best record in the Western Conference.
Wichita and Missouri will play again tonight at 7:05 pm at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.