ECHL: Why The Kansas City Mavericks Need To Start Jack LaFontaine In Game 3

James Slemp/InsideTheRink

The Kansas City Mavericks have a great goaltending tandem of Cale Morris and Jack LaFontaine during the regular season and throughout the first three rounds of the Kelly Cup Playoffs, but heading into Game 3 and the series tied at one game apiece in the Kelly Cup Finals, the Mavericks need to go back to Jack LaFontaine instead of continuing to rotate goaltenders. The former third-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016 has appeared in the first two games of the Kelly Cup Finals as he came in relief of Cale Morris in Game 1 after Morris gave up seven goals on 26 shots in 40 minutes of play in the team’s 8-1 loss; those seven goals are the most he’s allowed in a game since April 15th vs Maine Mariners when Morris was a member of the Norfolk Admirals. Morris has allowed eight goals twice in his career, once at the ECHL level and once at the AHL level, both of those came during the 2022-23 season. In 32 games during the regular season with the Mavericks, the 28-year-old goaltender went 21-7-2 with a 2.58 GAA, .911SV%, and one shutout. He would play seven games with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, where he went 2-2-2 with a 2.63 GAA and .919SV%.

James Slemp/InsideTheRink

LaFontaine would end getting the start and picking up the win in Game 2 as he stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced, and it was his fifth straight appearance in which he allowed only a goal. During the Kelly Cup Playoffs, LaFontaine is 7-1 with a 1.61 GAA and .956SV% in nine appearances; he went 16-3-1 with a 2.77 GAA, .911SV%, and one shutout during the regular season and would win both the starts he would get at the AHL with the Coachella Valley Firebirds. In the playoffs, goalies can get hot, and right now, LaFontaine is starting to find his game, and for the Mavericks, they don’t want to go down in the series with the Florida Everblades hosting three of the last five possible games.

If Kansas City does decide to go back to LaFontaine in Game 3, I would still expect to see Cale Morris get a start in either Game 4 or 5, as these two teams will play three games in four games beginning tomorrow night. Despite a strong regular season, both LaFontaine and Morris are getting their first taste of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Regardless of which goaltender Head Coach Tad O’Had decides to go with in Game 3, the Mavericks should come ready to play, seeing that the Everblades have opened the scoring in the first two games in KC. If Florida can get the home crowd behind them early, it could cause problems for the Mavericks. I would expect that if Morris does, in fact, get the start on Wednesday, his leash will be a lot tighter than it was in Game 1, especially since they don’t play a back to back I believe that played a big factor in the opening game of the series.

Armand Klisivitch

Inside The Rink ECHL Manager | Senior Editor Credentialed Reporter for the Adirondack Thunder & Worcester Railers.

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