ECHL Western Conference Recap: Kansas City Mavericks vs. Toledo Walleyes Game 1 | 05/17/2024
Mavericks Vs Toledo Photo Credit Mavericks on X formerly known as Twitter.

Series three commenced in Toledo Friday night, showcasing the impressive track record of the Toledo Walleyes. Undefeated in the postseason, they are poised to extend their winning streak to 23 and replicate their previous series sweeps. The Kansas City Mavericks, this season’s regular champion winner of the Brabham Cup, are determined to make their mark with their first win in Toledo, setting the stage for their final series before the prestigious Kelly Cup match against the winner of the Adirondack Thunder/ Florida Everblades series. Due to scheduling conflicts, Toledo has the home-ice advantage for the first three games. KC will have the last four if they are all necessary. This is the first time this season that the Mavericks will play against the Walleyes. They have yet to win a game in Toledo’s barn. 

The puck drops, and the game gets underway. These teams dominate powerhouses, ranked one and three in the regular season. Toledo comes out blazing, with season MVP Brandon Hawkins getting the first shot on goal and our first goal of the game at 11:08. Chippy behavior starts to get under players’ skin. We see both sides begin to push and shove each other like it’s a kindergarten playground, but no penalties are called.KC answers back when Jake McLaughlin makes it a tied game at 15:30. With 15 seconds left in the first period, the Mavericks take their first lead when Cade Borchardt sinks one, making it 2-1. These teams are such forces on the ice that we only saw KC outshoot Toledo 8-6. It differed from the massive numbers we saw during the Maverick Steelhead series. Cale Morris is again in the net for the Mavericks, while the Walleyes have John Lethemon. 

Period two kicks off, and we see our first penalty of the game again: the Walleyes Sam Craggs Tripping call against Jake McLaughlin, which put the Mavericks on the power play. KC is ranked second in the postseason for PP at 22.2%. The Walleyes are ranked fourth on the PK at 88.9%, which shows when the penalty ends with KC only getting one shot off. Lethemon and Morris are blocking machines, and we dont see another goal until 11:40 when Toldeos Riley Sawchuk makes it a tied game at 2-2. This is easily the cleanest played hockey we have seen in the entire playoff season. Both teams’ defense exhausting opportunities, ending the period with Toledo leading shots 12-7.

The third period begins, and the Mavericks control the first ten minutes, denying the Walleyes four times before taking the shot lead 6-4. A massive hit on the Maverick’s Marc-Olivier Duquette puts him on his back on the ice, causing tensions to rise. Kcs captain Jake Jaremko made good on the hit against Riley McCourt; he was just dumping him on the ice and increasing the team tension. Emotions would come to a head when these two teams met in front of the net at 7:18 in, and Bradley Schoonbaert and Justin MacPherson take exception to Toledos Conlan Keenan, and words are exchanged with a few pushes involved. Play gets underway, Nate Knoepke takes a shot, and Walleyes Brandon Kruse blocks the shot with his groin and goes down to the ice, but he has to take a moment to recover. Once up, he heads to the bench. At 13:28 in, Jacob Hayhurst backhands a pass from McKenna, and Kansas City leads 3-2. Both teams start to lose their cool with that last goal, and we see minor disagreements break out during the next couple of plays between Riley McCourt and Patrick Curry and then another between Marc-Olivier Duquette and Alexandre Doucet. The Walleyes pull John Lethemon from the net, but he’s almost immediately back due to an icing call. Kansas City Maverick successfully ended Toledos’ 22-game winning streak, taking game one in the series. 

Notably absent is Cade Borchardt, who did not return for the entire third period. During the Idaho series, Cade took a high shot and wore a cage throughout the game. This leaves us to wonder if he is suffering from another injury or if the previous one has been aggravated. 

1st  Star: Jacob Hayhurst KC
2nd Star: Brandon Hawkins Toledo
3rd  Star: Cade Borchardt KC

These teams meet again Saturday night at 7:15 EST for game two of this series. This game is sure to be another intense round of hockey. Winning their first game inside the Huntington Center in Franchise history gives KC a huge boost heading into game two. 

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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