ECHL Western Conference Final Recap: Kansas City Mavericks Vs Toledo Walleye Game 6 | 05/27/2024

Kansas City Mavericks/ECHL

The Mavericks and Walleye engaged in a thrilling game six on Monday afternoon. The stakes were high, with a win for Kansas City potentially propelling them to the Kelly Cup Final. At the same time, a victory for the Walleye would force a game seven, intensifying the competition. The arena was buzzing with anticipation, fans from both teams cheering and chanting, creating an electric atmosphere that added to the excitement of the game. 

Goaltending Toledo is sticking with John Lethemon, and KC is bringing Jack LaFontaine tonight. LaFontaine has a 16-3 record and a .911 save percentage, and Lethemon has a 26-7 record and a .892 save percentage. Both goalies have been clutch for their teams when it matters most. Saturday night for Lethemon was huge, and LaFontaine was in the net for all three games that KC has won against Toledo. 

The puck drops, and we witness almost five minutes of intense play when Maverick’s Patrick Curry is called for boarding after a thunderous shot on a goal attempt. This leads to the Walleye’s first power play of the game. The Mavericks, however, manage to kill off the penalty and take the lead in shots ten minutes in. The aggressive play from both teams adds to the drama during the first period. Mavericks Jeremy McKenna finds the net with less than five minutes left, a goal that ignites the crowd. The Walleye’s roughing penalty, called almost immediately after during the faceoff when Mitchell Lewandowski jabbed McKenna with his stick in the face, gives the Mavericks the power play. Despite Toledo’s defense being able to easily kill it, the game sees a delay when Riley Sawchuk launches the puck a little too hard, putting the Mavericks back on the power play. The period ends with three instances where everyone felt penalties should have been addressed: 13-5 KC shot of goals, and Mavericks lead 1-0, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats. 

The second period starts with 1:08 left on the Maverick Power Play. The Mavericks can’t make anything of the remaining time, but we see lots of pushing between players on the ice. McKenna and Riley McCourt are coming to blows two and a half in. Emotions running high are causing players to take more exceptions when one another is chirping out. Mckenna gets a great pass from a Walleye turnover, and we have Mavericks 2-0, putting McKenna on Hatty Watch. We see a massive hit by Justin Nachbaur taking down Walleye Matt Anderson, which brings out the trainers as Anderson was delayed getting up, favoring his shoulder as he heads back to the bench. During that commotion, KC’s Justin MacPherson gets called for high sticking, putting Toledo on the power play again. The penalty ends, and Cole Coskey gets the puck away from Toledo, flies down the rink, and makes it a 3-0 game with a wicked snipe. KC gets a delay of the game and puts the Walleyes on the power play once again. The power play ends, and we get solid play between both teams for the rest of the period. The period ends with four shots on goal. Toledo had one, and Lewandowski and Jacob Hayhurst from KC got into the middle ice. This is a vast difference compared to the previous games these teams have played with fewer shots and more aggression. 

The third period gets underway, and the possibilities are unlimited. Just one minute and twenty-eight seconds in, Jeremey McKenna gets his hat trick, making it a 4-0 game. It was an unbelievable goal: the puck went between Lethemons’ legs, almost looked like it was blocked, but hit the back of the net. KC’s Coskey gets called for high-sticking Brandon Hawkins, and we see Toledo go on the power play, but an offside disrupts their play. Toledo ends the power play with a great shot attempt but is upstaged by Max Andreev two minutes later, making it a 5-0 game. Toledo almost immediately gets called for Riley McCourts tripping. Mavericks power play expires while the Walleye are battling it out in front of LaFontaine, and Matt Anderson blasts one through his defense and puts Toledo on the board 5-1. Riley Sawchuk cross-checks Jake McLaughlin, knocking him off his feet and putting the Mavericks back on the power play. Another one bites the dust, and Toledo pulls Lethemon with 5:44 left in the period. Mavericks Theo Calvas makes no error when he snakes away the puck and gets an empty net goal, taking the score to 6-1. Toledo gets the man advantage when Patrick Curry puts them on the power play after tripping Gabriele Grant. Jack LaFontanie takes a rocket to the head, knocking his helmet off with 4:08 left to go, shakes it off, and continues playing. The period winds down with both sides aggressively playing for the puck, with Justin Nachbaur solidifying Kansas City’s win with a slick shot on Lethemon, making it 7-1. 

1st  Star of The Game: Jeremy McKenna
2nd Star of The Game: Jack LaFontaine
3rd Star of The Game: Max Andreev

Kansas City moves on clinching the Bruce Taylor Trophy in the Western Conference Championship and heading to the Kelly Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. The unbelievable season that the Mavericks are having is a true testament to this team’s dedication and tenacity in play. The team that played tonight completely differed from what we saw in game five. Toledo heads home with a fantastic season behind them and the honor of making it to the Western Conference Final for the second season. The Mavericks will take on the winner of the Adirondack Thunder/ Florida Everblades series. The Thunder/Everblades play again on Tuesday, May 28th, at 7:00 PM EST in Game Six. The Everblades lead the series 3-2 as they head back to Adirondacks barn. 

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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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