They were outshot 53-23 and made enough mistakes to fill a month’s worth of games.
Yet somehow the Missouri Mavericks claimed a 7-6 overtime victory over the Wichita Thunder Saturday night at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena to climb over the .500 mark for the first time in months and keep alive their hope of making the ECHL playoffs.
Mavericks goaltender Eamon McAdam just laughed when asked if he felt like a target in a shooting gallery as Wichita peppered him with 16 shots on goal the first two periods and 19 in the final 20 tension-filled minutes.
When Ryan Obuchowski was called for boarding in the closing minute of the third period, McAdam had to stave off a rapid-fired Thunder attack to keep the score knotted at 6-all and send it into overtime.
“I was pretty busy out there tonight,” said McAdam, who finished with 47 saves for his fourth straight win and eighth on the season. “But all that matters is that we won. I don’t think I’ve ever faced that many shots – and I wasn’t happy giving up six goals – but it was just one of those games.
“The biggest thing is that we won, and we won a game we desperately needed because we have to beat teams at home and we have to beat teams like Wichita, who we play so much during the (regular) season.”
The Mavericks’ penalty kill unit allowed two shots on goal in the first 1:22 of the five-minute overtime period before the Mavericks got back to full strength.
Moments after Obuchowski came back on the ice, associate captain Rocco Carzo stole the puck at mid ice and drove toward the net. Wichita goalie Scott Greenham stopped Carzo’s laser beam, but it rebounded to Matt Finn who slipped the puck into the back of the net to set off a wild celebration on the Mavericks bench and in the sold-out SEC Arena.
With the win, the Mavericks stand at 20-19-2-5 on the season and are tied at 4-4-0-0 with the season series with the Thunder. The team that wins the season series receives $2,000 for its local hockey youth organization.
The sixth-place Mavericks now trail Alaska by just seven points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division and Utah by three points.
The Mavericks are 6-2 on their current nine-game homestand that ends tonight with another 7:05 p.m. matchup against the Thunder.
“We have to do everything possible to win Tuesday, and make the most of this homestand,” said Finn, who had two goals and an assist Saturday. “We keep making it tough on ourselves with penalties and mistakes, but we were able to overcome those mistakes tonight.
“I can’t imagine what our locker room would be like if we didn’t win that game.”
Coach John-Scott Dickson, who has been blunt about his concern over team mistakes, did not address the media after the victory.
Carzo, who had two assists, talked about what this team has to do to make a real run at the playoffs.
“We have to win,” Carzo said. “I’m not a standings watcher. We’ve dug ourselves a hole and we’re trying to dig out of it. We wanted to go 9-1 on this homestand and we’re 6-2 with one game left, so we can think about tonight, but we better get focused and get ready to hit the ice Tuesday.”
Wichita got off to a 2-0 lead Saturday as the Mavericks continued their trend of coming out flat in the first period.
“We’ve had some games where we came out strong, but I agree, we need to come out and play better the first period,” Carzo said. “It’s hard to keep coming back all night.”
After Wichita’s Zach O'Brien and Ryan Tesink made it 2-0 for Wichita, Jesse Graham cut the deficit in half with his fourth goal, scoring on a drop pass from Carter Verhaeghe with a wrist shot to the blocker side. Verhaeghe's assist extended his point streak to 14 games, the longest in the ECHL this season.
Missouri had been held without a power play goal for three consecutive games but broke out of the slump with a man-advantage score 2:43 into the second to tie the game. Dane Fox and Graham teamed up to set up Darren Nowick for his 17th goal of the season.
The tie was short-lived as Matt DeBlouw scored off a faceoff just 25 seconds after Nowick's goal.
Fox tied it again at the 14:43 mark on assists from Graham and Dan Correale.
Finn put the Mavericks ahead 5-3 when he scored just 47 seconds into the third period and then assisted on Kyle Schempp's power play goal just 1:57 later.
Wichita struck at 5:16 and 11:25 on goals by Ryan Rupert and Louick Marcotte to tie it.
The pendulum swung back in Missouri's favor when Nowick slammed home his second goal of the game at 14:04 on assists from Fox and Correale.
Matt DeBlouw tied just 1:17 later on a power-play goal to set up Finn’s overtime game-winner.
The Mavericks went 2-for-3 on the power play and 6-for-8 on the penalty kill.