ECHL Western Conference Final Recap: Toledo Walleye vs. Kansas City Mavericks Game 4 | 05/24/2024

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Kansas City Mavericks/ECHL

The Kansas City Mavericks and Toldeo Walleye clashed in a crucial game four, a pivotal point in this series. This game could shift the balance, with the Mavericks leading the series 2-1. The Walleye, undefeated on the road, face the challenge of maintaining their streak against a determined Mavericks team. Both teams made minor Defenseman roster changes, returning Cade Borchardt for KC and Jed Pietila for Toledo, while Kc’s Jacob Hayhurst and Toledos Orrin Centazzo moved to the reserve roster. 

We see Jack LaFontaine for the Mavericks between the pipes, and John Lethemon starts for the third time for the Walleye. Lethemon’s exceptional performance on Monday, blocking 25 of 28 shots, was instrumental in the Walleyes’ victory. LaFontaine, with a remarkable record of eight wins in his last ten games, leads the playoffs with a .950 save percentage, a testament to his exceptional skills and a reminder of the massive amount of shots he blocked against Idaho in the previous series. 

The first period bursts into action, and we witness three intense minutes of play between the teams before we get our first penalty. Ryan Jones gets KC on the power kill, and the Walleyes take the man advantage. The Walleye, with a 21.4% success rate on the power play, is unable to make anything out of this golden opportunity. Toledo dominates the shots, outshooting KC 5-1 in the first five minutes. Matt Anderson takes a shot at the net, causing a flurry of snow around LaFontaine, and Jake McLaughlin from KC reacts with fury. This sparks our first game scrum, and we see a penalty for roughing the head to KC. With their PK sitting strong at 93.1% postseason, the Mavericks keep the Walleye from capitalizing on the power play. We witness eight minutes of fierce play when Toledos Michael Prapavessis slashes Cole Coskey, leading to more pushing and shoving before the Mavericks start their first power play of the night. The power play ends, and we see another thrilling hockey run, with some jibs and chirps, ending the period with no score. Toledo outshooting Kansas City 10-8.

The second period gets underway, and these teams are getting hot under the collar. The Mavericks put up a great defense, blocking the Walleye until they make a terrible mistake and get called for too many men on the ice. The Walleye return to the power play, and the Mavericks kill it off. LaFontaine makes a huge save that requires validation. Seven minutes in Toledo still leads in shots 4-1 and no score. Max Andreev takes a massive hit with Riley McCourt and goes to the ice. He takes a while to get up, and once up, he continues playing, showing no sign of injury or slowing down. The Mavericks head to the power play on a Delay of Game call on Jason Willms for flipping the puck over the Maverick bench into the crowd. Kansas City fights for control of the puck, and the Walleye successfully maneuvers them, killing the power play. The Walleye, still outshooting the Mavericks, see a massive push in front of their net. Lethemon makes a huge save, keeping the game scoreless. Mavericks Nolan Sullivan and Walleye Sam Craggs collide and start shoving each other, with teammates rushing in. Craggs ends with the penalty, putting KC back on the powerplay with 2.30 to go. The power play ends, and the period closes out still scoreless. The period was marked by strategic moves, from the Mavericks’ strong defense to the Walleye’s successful penalty kills, showcasing the teams’ tactical prowess.

The third period starts, and you can sense the pressure building. The Mavericks deny the Walleye for the first five minutes, taking the lead for shots on goal for the first time this game. The Walleye get their first shot on goal at 6:45, showing how much of a battle it is this period. Brandon Hawkins had a great shot on goal, but LaFontaine denied it with a spectacular glove save. The Mavericks get called for offsides, leading to a faceoff that gives us another solid three minutes of play before KC is called for icing, and the teams face off again. 13:06 Matt Anderson gets a great pass from Brandon Hawkins, and the Walleye make it a 1-0 game. Less than two minutes later, Mavericks Captian Jake Jaremko gets a sweet pass from David Cotton and ties it up with 5:30 left to go in regulation. We see fierce play in the last five minutes with only two more shots on goal allowed, with the period ending, sending the game to overtime.

As we head into overtime, both teams have brutal intentions of getting the puck in the net. Jake LaFontaine has 28 saves, and John Lethemon has 25. The puck drops, and Nolan Sullivan wins the faceoff. Brandon Hawkins has the first shot on goal. LaFontaine has made several saves this game, two of the biggest in overtime, as he denies Riley Sawchuck, Toledo’s biggest scorer this postseason. The Walleye makes some mistakes as Mavericks Patrick Curry loses his helmet and has to return to the bench. Jake McLaughlin gets a delay of game call for sitting on the puck to keep Toledo from scoring on a rebound, putting the Walleye on the power play. The power play ends after a scramble by the Mavericks, barely making it out. Cole Coskey gets a fantastic setup by Jake Jaremko and puts the puck in the net, winning the game 2-1.

1st  Star of the Game: Cole Coskey
2nd Star of the Game: Jack LaFontaine 
3rd  Star of the Game: Jake Jaremko 

These two teams meet for game five on Saturday night in Kansas City at 7:05 PM CDT. These teams are both unbelievable powerhouses, making this game the most important. Kansas City wins this game, becoming the Western Conference Champions, taking home the Walker Trophy, and meeting the winner of the Adirondack Thunder/Florida Everblades series. The Everblades currently lead that series 3-1

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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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