INDEPENDENCE, MO – The Kansas City Mavericks have been on a roller coaster of sorts for the last month. The devastating loss of Rocco Carzo for the season seemed to ignite a gritty winning streak to pull the team above .500 on the season. That was followed by moments when the offense couldn’t get things rolling. Defensive struggles followed and special team mistakes reared their ugly head again. Then came a gutsy win against the always tough Allen Americans this past Monday when only fourteen skaters dressed for the Mavericks. You get the picture…it’s been a grind.
The Mavericks remain very much in contention in the Central Division as the Toledo Walleye have recently somewhat returned to earth and the teams are tightly clumped in the standings. But, as the calendar is set to turn to 2018 and the halfway mark of the season looms just a few weeks away, the Mavericks are still searching for their identity.
It’s been incredibly difficult due to injuries and missed games from players that were expected to contribute significantly to this roster. With names like Darren Nowick, Dan Correale, Shawn Pauly, Matt Robertson, Troy Donnay, Jordan Kwas and the aforementioned Carzo all missing some time, it has been a struggle for coach John-Scott Dickson to even piece together lines, much less figure out what he has for a team.
After Monday’s tough win against Allen, Dickson was considerably upbeat when talking about his team doing the little things right. With the injuries mounting, this team has no room for error at this point and it’s literally all hands on deck. If you’re healthy enough to suit up, you’re playing right now.
Dickson’s philosophy is based on hard-nosed hockey that limits mistakes that create chances for the opposition. It’s a physical brand of hockey and the learning curve is occasionally steep for younger players not used to the level of physicality required. But, when performed correctly, it’s an absolute thing of beauty. The Mavericks can create some great scoring chances and push the pace of play to the point of exhaustion for the opposition.
This is not a .500 hockey team. They have potential to be very, very good. The goaltending duo is starting to figure things out and the penalty kill, an incredible point of frustration early in the season, is rounding into form nicely. When the Mavs get things clicking, it’s a team that could do some damage in the Kelly Cup playoffs a few months from now. With the speed, physicality, and special teams they possess, they could be a team no one wants to face come April; regardless of their seed.
The Mavericks will definitely need things clicking this weekend as they host the red-hot Colorado Eagles for games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The Eagles have overtaken the Wichita Thunder for first place in a very tough Mountain Division.
The Mavericks acquired some defensive depth on Friday with a trade for Ales Sova from the Quad City Mallards for future considerations. The addition of Sova will, at the very least, allow the Mavs to dress six defensemen this weekend barring any further injuries.
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