INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Mavericks nine-game homestand came to a close on Wednesday, February 13 when they were bested by the Tulsa Oilers by a score of 2-1. While their record through that time was 4-4-1, what lies ahead holds the utmost importance for this playoff contending team.
The Mavericks have not been on the road since January 12, and playing Utah this upcoming weekend will be a test of character the team is exemplifying at this point in the season. It is hard to say that the Mavericks have been the same team all season because that would simply not be the case. The team that went on a massive home winning streak at the start of the season is not the same team that let it slip over the holiday season.
At the ECHL level, there are so many factors that affect a team at any given time. Injuries are present with any athletic organization but call-ups, loans and trades are especially prevalent at this level. The Mavericks had a small stretch of games where they were able to maintain a squad of incredible talent through this organization. This team was fortunate to have Mark Cooper, Jared VanWormer and Mike McMurtry all skating at the same time.
But there have been some roster moves since then. Here is a list of some recent transactions:
- Nick Schneider – Recalled to the Stockton Heat
- Mike Panowyk – Reactivated from injured reserve
- Mark Cooper – Loaned to the San Antonio Rampage
- Greg Betzold – Back from reserve
- Mike McMurtry – Recalled to the Stockton Heat
Neither team really dominated Wednesday night’s game, and from a showing like that, it is almost as if the Mavericks beat themselves. They were not getting shots on goal and went two and a half periods only registering 14 shots. The entirety of the second period, they only raised their shot count by five. You can’t score goals if the puck isn’t getting to the net, and it was not a matter of Tulsa blocking shots or playing an exceptional defensive game. Simply put, John-Scott Dickson said:
“They were on pucks a lot better than we were.”
The team is not hanging their head too low about this loss. Coach Dickson attributed mental toughness to be what will help them move forward:
“Mentally tough to me is there’s going to be bad breaks, but you have to learn from them and move on to create chances for yourself.”
However, the most consistent part of the Mavericks game has been goaltending, which may seem odd compared to last year’s fair share of shuffling in net. Mason McDonald has been very impactful for this team. It seems even when the rest of the team can’t quite get it done, he’s got their back in net. Stopping 30 of 32 shots on the night is not that bad of a night for McDonald, and it was the reason that game did not slip out of their grasp. McDonald has started the last seven games for Kansas City and does not show signs of stopping anytime soon.
“He just seems to be locked in. Focused. Wants to be the guy in the net and when you have that approach, usually good things happen for you,” said Dickson.
Most post-game interviews with players and coaches include rave reviews about the Calgary Flames prospect. Down the stretch, he may be what really makes the difference between the Mavericks making the playoffs or not. It is an exciting spot for the Mavs to be in, but also not a spot they can be comfortable with. It’s crunch time. A stretch of losses or taking some teams too easily can put them out of the race they currently have a spot in.
It was a very exciting start for the Mavericks 2018-19 season, and I think I speak for all Mavs fans when I say the hope is for a very exciting finish. But for now, Kansas City will keep their blinders on and focus on the next two games in Utah.