In one of the most-surprising musical choices you'll ever hear, a Taylor Swift song blared from the Missouri Mavericks' locker room after a Central Hockey League game on Monday night.
Country music's sweetheart. For a bunch of hockey players.
"T. Swift, she's my girl," Missouri goalie Rob Nolan said with a grin. "It fires up the boys."
Discussing the rather dull game, Wichita Thunder coach Kevin McClelland used the word "boring" to describe Missouri's style of play.
Again, it works for Missouri.
Say what you will about the Mavs' methods, or their song selections, they continue to win games at impressive rate — the latest an unexpected 2-0 shutout of the Thunder at Intrust Bank Arena.
Unexpected because on Sunday the Thunder used a six-goal, 22-shot third period to rally past Nolan and the Mavericks 7-4 at IBA. On Monday, Missouri (16-8-3) scored two goals in the second period and, this time, there was no stirring comeback from the inconsistent Thunder (12-13-2).
"You can't fall behind a team like that two nights in a row and expect to come back," McClelland said.
Missouri, a second-year franchise from Independence, Mo., scored early in the second period. Thunder goaltender Marc-Antoine Gelinas made the first save, stopping a backhanded shot, but Mike Berry jammed in the rebound at the 1:09 mark.
Midway through the period, a turnover led to a goal from Bill Vandemeer, who took a pass from Ryan Jardine from behind the net and scored on an open shot in the slot.
"These guys (Missouri) play a boring style," McClelland said. "They sit back and just wait for opportunities. You've got to be clean through the neutral zone, and we started to get a little sloppy in the second."
The lead was secure with Nolan in net. The second-year pro, who entered the game with a league-leading 2.16 goals-against average, made 31 saves, including 12 in the final period. Nolan (11-4-2) called his third-period performance on Sunday "embarrassing."
"It was one of those weird games where everything was going in," he said. "The best thing is to get back right out there and redeem yourself.
"Tonight, we had a lot of blocked shots, guys sacrificing their body. That made it a lot easier for me."
Notes — Goaltender Peter Delmas, who has played poorly since he was assigned to Wichita by the Montreal Canadians, was called up on Monday by the Wheeling Nailers of the East Coast Hockey League, McClelland said after the game. Hopes were high when Delmas arrived in Wichita, but he leaves with an 0-3-1 record and a 4.85 GAA. Marty Magers, who has been on injured reserve, will be activated. Magers is 3-2 with a 3.18 GAA. He hasn't played since Nov. 26.... Jason Goulet, who has also been on IR, is expected to make the team's road trip too.... Linesman Dennis Mercer, a lifelong Wichitan, was honored before the game — the 500th of his career. He plans to retire in February.... The Thunder plays its next three games on the road, returning home on Jan. 7 to play the Mavericks.
Missouri0 2 0 — 2 Wichita0 0 0 — 0
Scoring—none. Penalties—Wichita, Greene (charging) 12:24; Wichita, Bennefield (roughing) 16:55.
Scoring—1. Missouri, Berry 8 (O'Nabigon, Vandemeer) 1:09; 2. Missouri, Vandemeer 3 (Jardine, Lavender) 11:16. Penalties—Missouri, Lewis (hooking) 14:06; Missouri, DiLauro (tripping) 19:57; Wichita, Scoran (roughing) 20:00; Missouri, Ruwe (roughing) 20:00.
Scoring—none. Penalties—Missouri, Filion (slashing) 7:42; Missouri, Sirota (hooking) 12:50; Wichita, Bennefield (diving) 12:50; Missouri, DiLauro (high sticking) 18:45.
Shots on goal—Missouri 6-11-4—21, Wichita 7-12-12—31.
Power play—Missouri 0-2, Wichita 0-4.
Goaltenders—Missouri, Nolan 31 saves on 31 shots. Wichita, Gelinas 19 saves on 21 shots.