ECHL Western Conference Final Recap: Kansas City Mavericks Vs Toledo Walleye Game 5 | 05/25/2024
Kansas City Mavericks/ECHL

In a titillating high-stakes showdown, the Toledo Walleye clashed with the Kansas Mavericks in a nail-biting game five Saturday night at the Cable Dahmer Arena. The Mavericks, leading the series 3-1, were on the brink of advancing to the Kelly Cup Finals. Toledo, determined to extend the series, made some strategic roster changes, activating Mitch Lewandowski and placing Jed Pietila on reserves. The Mavericks also brought in fresh talent, with Jakob Brahaney joining the lineup and Kyle Jackson on reserve. 

In this game, Toledo has John Lethemon between the pipes, and the Mavericks bring back Cale Morris. Lethemon has played the last three games for the Walleye, and even though Lethemon lost the previous game, he is still a formidable player to lean on. Toledo has to win three straight to make it to the final. Lethemon would be the guy for the job. While Morris is fresh from having Friday night’s game off, he has won 12 of his last 13 starts and isn’t one to back down. 

The puck drops, and right off the bat, the game heats up. We get eight solid minutes of play, with the Walleye making some sloppy mistakes, getting an offsides call, and the Mavericks bringing on our first penalty for hooking by Patrick Curry. Before this call, Brandon Hawkins took Curry to the ice, and nothing was called when it was clear he had ahold of Curry. Curry’s penalty led to a power play for the Walleye, and they took advantage, scoring 30 seconds in with a goal by Brandon Hawkins, and we are 1-0. The Walleye get their first penalty of the game with Brendon Michaelian’s call for High Sticking Ryan Jones. Mavericks go on the power play, and David Cotton makes it a tied game with six minutes left in the period. Players start to get hot, and we see scrums break out between Hawkins and Marc-Olivier Duquette, then Jeremy Mckenna and Dalton Messina, and Max Andreev with Lewandowski get some shoves in. As the period closes, Cole Coskey gets hit in the face with a stick in front of a ref, but there is no call. Then Toledo’s Conlan Keenan makes a shot on goal up close, gets shoved into Morris, and Makenna shoves Keenan and receives the call for roughing. 

The second period starts with 1:30 left on the Walleye’s Power play. Coming into the game, they were 18.75% on power plays, only capitalizing on six of 32. Power play ends, and we see heavy play between the teams, and about the five-minute mark, both teams go through offside calls. Toledo outshooting KC 6-2. 10:08, Jake McLaughlin gets called for Highsticking Sam Craggs. Penalties favoring the Walleye in this game, as Patrick Curry has been blatantly pulled down twice now with nothing called, then refs see Toledo Jason Willms knock Jake Jaremko to the ice, earning them an interference penalty and putting the Mavericks on the power play. The power play ends, KC rushes the Walleye Dzone, and we see 45 seconds of the hardest-played hockey yet. With three shots on goal and huge passes connected, the Walleye defense, led by Matt Anderson and Lethemon, denied the Mavericks. The period ends still tied at one, Toledo leading KC by one for shots on goal, with the final act chirping between Mavericks Cade Borchardt and Walleye Jacob Graves.

The period that could end this series begins, and KC’s Patrick Curry has the first shot on goal. 1:49 in Walleye, get a wicked bounce off a skate and make it a 2-1 game, with Jacob Graves getting the credit. Mavericks called for a review, and the goal was found to be good. Battling back, Max Andreev gets called for Tripping, and we have the Walleye back on the power play. The Walleye dominate the following five minutes, denying the Mavericks any attempts at a shot on goal. Walleye lead 9-1 for shots on goal in the first half of the period. The Mavericks are battling to get the puck and are not successful in keeping it in their possession. We see a great battle of skill in the next five minutes with massive hits from Patrick Curry, and then Max Andreev and Toledos Michael Prapavessis start sharing words and touches, but nothing comes of it. The ref just separates players and moves along. The last five minutes are stressful, as the Walleye fight to keep the lead, and Kansas City is rapidly seeing their win sliding further out of reach. Forty-eight seconds left, and Walleye Brandon Kruse makes it a 3-1 game. During the celebration, Patrick Curry makes his way down the tunnel, holding his mouth with no penalties called. The period ends, and Walleye wins game five 3-1, with John Lethemon making 15 out of 16 saves. Cale Morris made 24 out of 26 saves, but it wasn’t enough to win.

1st  Star of the Game: Jacob Graves
2nd Star of the Game: Brandon Hawkins
3rd  Star of the Game: Brandon Kruse

The Mavericks will host the Walleye for game six on Monday, May 27th. The Mavericks could potentially take the series advancing in this next game, while the Walleye are determined to make it a 3-3 series. The Mavericks may be dealing with minor injuries and tired players. In comparison, Toledo seems ready and eager to take this all the way to game seven, setting the stage for an exciting and unpredictable match. Puck drops this holiday at 4:05 CDT.

Stephanie DeLaFleur

Beat Writer covering the ECHL Savannah Ghost Pirates, NHL Vegas Golden Knights and AHL Henderson Silver Knights. Follow me on X @StephiDelafleur

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