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ECHL Playoffs Recap: Idaho Steelheads vs. Kansas City Mavericks Game 5 | May 11, 2024

Saturday was a pivotal moment in the Kelly Cup Playoffs as the Kansas City Mavericks and Idaho Steelheads met in Game 5 of their second series. With the Mountain Division championship on the line, this game could be the deciding factor. KC, leading 3-1, had a chance to clinch advance with a win, while Idaho fought to stay in the game and force a game six.

Idaho suffered a setback with a roster move as Jordan Kawaguchi was suspended for two games this morning. This suspension, a result of his second-period penalty against Jake McLaughlin, means he will be absent tonight and in Game 6 if the series requires it. This absence could have a significant impact on Idaho's performance.

The puck dropped, and at 2:43 KC received its first penalty for a crosscheck by Justin MacPherson. The Steelheads wouldn't do much on the power play as there were only two shots on goal in this game. The Mavericks would make it a 1-0 game if Jeremy McKenna found the gap in Bryan Thomsons' defense. AJ White would tie the game after nearly seven minutes and take the lead two minutes later when Reece Harsch scored on Jack LaFontaine. 13:58 KC's Max Andreev would equalize. Both teams did their best this season, with Idaho having 26 shots on goal while KC had 15. At the end of the period tied at 2-2, we saw the boys start to get physical and both teams ended up taking tough penalties. Jacob Hayhurst and Keaton Mastrodonato go to the penalty box for the final 16 seconds of the first period.

The second half began and we immediately saw the good and the bad of Patrick Curry. The good thing was the lead he gave KC and the bad thing was the penalty he called for on the very next play. It was a stumbling call that left some scratching their heads. KC started making more mistakes and Casey Carreau was called for high-sticking less than four minutes into the period. We would see a solid 13 minutes of great hockey before it hits 17:00 minutes. Idaho picked up the following penalty when called for roughing, sending Willie Knierim to the penalty box, only to get a second roughing penalty at the end of the period when he interfered with some KC players in front of the net.

The third period began, the quietest period these two teams had. Solid play with great passing and Idaho would beat KC again 6-5 with AJ White breaking the tie again at 11:33. Will Merchant would get the next penalty for Idaho when he was called for the high hitting Jeremy McKenna. The Mavericks would have two more shots on goal, and then all we would see was straight, breakneck play from both teams, shooting everything they could to take the lead. But time would run out and we would see fireworks between the players and go into overtime.

The overtime was a nerve-wracking affair, with tempers and nerves running high. One team was on the verge of either facing Idaho again or getting some much-needed rest, while the other was on the verge of finding out if they were more afraid of heights than emotions. The game was intense: KC dominated Idaho with 10 shots on goal compared to three in the first nine minutes. Reece Harsch and Patrick Curry's collision in Idaho's D-zone increased the drama as they went up the ice and began swinging. The teams were evenly matched and each had three shots on goal until Cade Borchardt scored the game-winning goal with a hard rebound less than 60 seconds after the end of the power play.

1. Star of the game: Cade Borchardt (KC)
2. Star of the game: AJ White (ID)
3. Star of the game: Jake LaFontaine (KC)

With an impressive performance, the Kansas City Mavericks emerged as Mountain Division champions, extended their ECHL regular season championship title, and won the Brabham Cup. This win puts them into the third series of their Kelly Cup run, where they will face the undefeated Toledo Walleyes, their toughest opponent yet. This is the first time the franchise has advanced to the third round of playoff games since joining the ECHL in 2014. Game one of the Western Conference Finals is May 17 in Toledo.

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Anna Harden

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