Hults OT Goal Sparks Mavericks Early Celebration, 2-1
What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than with a clutch goal in overtime? That must have been the thought going through Mitch Hults’ head as he scored less than a minute into overtime to give the Kansas City Mavericks a 2-1 victory over the Wichita Thunder on Tuesday evening. Nick Schneider made 20 saves to earn the victory. The OT loss ruined a great night by Mitch Gillam, who stopped 32 shots.
Gillam was put to the test early on, having to stop 11 shots in the first period, however, neither team came away with a goal. The Thunder goaltender made two huge saves about four minutes into the game when he knocked down Zach Osburn’s shot and then stoned Bryan Lemos seconds later.
That game remained scoreless through one, but Wichita would finally end that with a power-play goa at 2:19 of the second. Ostap Safin carried the puck into the Mavericks end along the boards, then swept in toward the goal. When he was about 10 feet from Schneider, he made a great pass to Spencer Dorowicz, who buried the one-timer to give Wichita a 1-0 lead.
That lead held through much of the second period, but Kansas City would finally get on the board with 78 seconds left in the frame. Hults carried the puck into the Thunder zone, passing it to Darian Dziurzynski. Dziurzynski fired a wrist shot that beat Gillam between the legs to tie the score at one.
At the start of the third, Kansas City looked like they were going to jump out in front. Just 16 seconds into the period, the pass came to Ryan Galts in the front who looked like he had nothing but net in front of him, but Gillam was able to slide over and knock the attempt away.
The Mavericks continued to dominate much of the play in the frame. They had outshot Wichita 21-15 through the first two periods, but were in control of the third, outshooting the Thunder 12-6.
Gillam remained the difference maker, however. He continued to make save after save, including at the 12-minute mark when he stopped Osburn right in front of the goal, then had to make another great save on his rebound attempt.
The game went to overtime where the Mavericks won it 53 seconds into the extra frame. Osburn had the puck behind the Wichita goal. He passed it along the boards to Hults, who took the feed and headed toward the goal. Hults swept across the slot, then fired a backhander over the shoulder of Gillam for his ninth goal of the season. It was the theme of the night as each goal scorer recorded their ninth tally of the season.
Hults finished with a goal and an assist for Kansas City. Osburn had two assists for the Mavericks.
The Wichita Thunder (15-15-6) travel to Allen to take on the Americans on Saturday night. The puck drops at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier