By Fred Liggett

The Western Conference finals series finally got underway on Friday night between the host Toledo Walleye and Kansas City Mavericks. The Walleye had been off for a week, the Mavericks for six days waiting for the series to begin. Toledo got on the board first but the Mavericks scored last and it proved to be the game winning goal as they take game 1 winning 3-2.

The ECHL Player of the Year in forward Brandon Hawkins lit the lamp with 8:52 left in the opening period giving Toledo a 1-0 lead. The Mavs would tally there first goal in the series with 4:30 left in the period thanks to Jake McLaughlin. The 1-1 tie didn’t last long as Mavs rookie Cade Borchardt scored with just :15 seconds to give them a 2-1 lead.

The second period saw many shots on goal but only one score that coming from Toledo’s Riley Sawchuk tying the game at two with 11:40 left in the period. In the third period the game remained tied till Jacob Hayhurst score with 6:32 left to go to make it 3-2 Mavericks. Toledo outshot the Mavericks 26-22 in the game but failed to find a game-tying goal.

The Mavericks take a 1-0 series lead in the best four out of seven event. The Mavericks won an ECHL record 29 road games during the 2023-24 regular season. The Mavs have now won six straight road playoff games in three different series. Game two will be played on Saturday, May 18 at 6:15 p.m. in Toledo.

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