2024 Toledo Walleye vs Kansas City Mavericks

Kansas City Mavericks Oust Toledo Walleye, Punch Ticket To Kelly Cup Finals

Kansas City Mavericks Oust Toledo Walleye, Punch Ticket To Kelly Cup Finals

The Kansas City Mavericks are Western Conference champions in the ECHL and will play for their first Kelly Cup after beating the Toledo Walleye in six.

May 28, 2024 by Chris Peters

For the first time in franchise history, the Kansas City Mavericks will be playing for the Kelly Cup. The Mavericks ousted the Toledo Walleye in six games to advance to their first championship series. The club celebrated its first Western Conference title thanks to a convincing 7-1 win on home ice to close out the Walleye, a perennial contender that is still searching for a Kelly Cup of its own.

To see the Mavericks claim the Bruce Taylor Cup as Western Conference champs shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given that they had the best record in the ECHL by far this season. Their 114 points in the standings were nine points ahead of the next closest team – Toledo – and the Mavs had six more wins than any other team during the regular season.

Kansas City’s hockey history is long and disjointed, but the Mavericks have been the city’s hockey team since 2009-10, then playing in the now defunct Central Hockey League. In all those years, the furthest the Mavericks had made it was to the Western Conference Final.

Since joining the ECHL in 2014-15 when the league picked up a number of CHL clubs after that circuit dissolved, Kansas City has reached the playoffs just four times, including this season. Over the last two seasons, the organization has shown tremendous growth and has benefited from a strong affiliation partnership with the NHL’s and AHL’s newest franchises, the Seattle Kraken and Coachella Valley Firebirds.

This season has been on another level, however.

In their Memorial Day showdown with Toledo, it was the Jeremy McKenna show. McKenna, who appeared in 11 games with Coachella Valley in the AHL earlier this season, registered a hat trick in the clinching game, scoring goals one, two and four.

McKenna got the scoring started with a breakaway goal off of his backhand on Toledo goalie John Lethemon at the 16:20 mark of the first period. 

The game looked like it would stay close until McKenna struck again at 8:12 of the second period. Cole Coskey added another goal just over two minutes later to start putting some distance between the Mavericks and Toledo.

McKenna looked like he stuck a fork in the Walleye just 1:28 into the third period when his quick one-time shot on the rush slipped through Lethemon to make it 4-0 to complete the hat trick.

Kansas City goalie Jack LaFontaine grabbed his sixth win in seven postseason appearances. He has been on an absolute roll through the postseason despite alternating starts with tandem mate Cale Morris. The former University of Minnesota standout has a stunning .954 save percentage in these Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Toledo kept the fight going with a goal from Matt Anderson in the third period. That led Toledo coach Pat Mikesch to pull his goalie early in hopes of injecting more life into the game. Instead, Kansas City's Theo Calvas found the empty net to make it 6-1, before Justin Nachbaur added insult to injury with another late goal to make it 7-1, completing a four-goal third period from the Mavs.

The Mavericks can now take some time off as they await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Florida Everblades currently hold a 3-2 lead over the Adirondack Thunder as the series goes back to Glens Falls, N.Y., for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

You can watch that game exclusively on FloHockey.

Regardless of who wins, Kansas City has home ice advantage and is sure to see a packed Cable Dahmer Arena for the first ever championship series in a town that certainly knows a thing or two about winning teams.

While KC may be used to football and baseball teams winning championships, the last time a Kansas City hockey team won a championship was the Kansas City Blades, which won the International Hockey League's Turner Cup in 1992. 

Western Conference Finals Results

Kansas City Mavericks (54-12-6) Vs. Toledo Walleye (48-14-9)

Game 1 - Kansas City 3, Toledo 2
Game 2 - Kansas City 5, Toledo 1
Game 3 - Toledo 4, Kansas City 3
Game 4 - Kansas City 2, Toledo 1 (OT)
Game 5 - Toledo 3, Kansas City 1
Game 6 - Kansas City 7, Toledo 1

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