INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – There is no denying the Kansas City Mavericks have got it figured out as far as a season start goes. Their home winning streak is currently at five games, they have the second-best winning percentage in the league and they were at the top of the Mountain Division after their win against the Allen Americans on Tuesday night.
Individually, Jared VanWormer is in the top 10 in the league for scoring, Mark Cooper put up both overtime game-winning goals in the weekend series against Wichita and Utah and Mason McDonald is sixth in the league in goals against average as well as carrying a perfect 4-0 record.
Bring Out the Highlight Reel
If you have not seen Mark Cooper’s overtime winners from November 2nd and 3rd, you are really missing out. In his goal against Wichita, he broke out on the rush from a pass from Willie Raskob and produced a shootout type move with a toe drag that tricked Dylan Wells and snuck it past his pad to end the game.
“I’ve practiced that move a lot and when I get to execute it in games it’s a lot of fun,” Cooper said postgame.
The following night he does it again, pulling another impressive move out. He takes a high shot from the hashmarks and the puck hits the crossbar and lands in. A jaw-dropping move that secures another win courtesy of Cooper.
The 26-year-old forward adjusts to having more forwards on the bench, “We have three or four guys down the middle that can win faceoffs all over the ice and having that depth and getting an even amount of ice time with 10 forwards is huge to stay fresh for back to backs or throughout games.”
Riding the High
It’s hard not to be in good spirits when you’re a winning team and formulating consistency.
“When we’re skating the way we are, it’s going to be tough for teams to keep the pace with us. There are some good teams, some fast teams in this league but we just got to worry about our game and that’s what we’ve been doing,” said Head Coach John-Scott Dickson.
Jared VanWormer and Mark Cooper have been electric on their line together and give each other just as much credit as the other. On Cooper’s overtime goal against Utah VanWormer said, “He’s been dynamite all year, so I wasn’t surprised to see that go in.” VanWormer himself put up two goals and assist on Tuesday night against Allen, with Cooper picking up an assist on his first goal. Even McDonald finds strength in his consistency after struggling with an injury in the preseason saying, “You just got to be ready for when your time comes and when your time is there you got to take advantage of it.”
Play Your Game
The Mavericks are establishing their identity with every passing contest. It is not about size for this team either. C.J. Eick is 5-foot-7 and as Dickson alludes to an ongoing joke in the locker room when he talked about Eick’s first goal of the season he said, “It’s good to see him go low blocker. That’s a goal scorer shot right there.”
Eick picked up another goal against Allen on Tuesday and playing alongside David Dziurzynski has turned some heads.
“They hunt pucks, they’re relentless on it and it’s going to be I’m going to have to start them every night because you know what you’re going to get out of those guys,” said Dickson.
With the current roster numbers, there are healthy scratches every single night and the guys performing and showing grit in the games are the ones that are more likely to make the starting lineup. Mix up physicality and speed and you can be borderline unbeatable.
“We tell all our players, we don’t want you to blow guys up but engage in contact,” Dickson commented.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and clearly what the Mavericks are doing is far from broken.
The Mavericks hit the road this weekend for a two-game series against the Allen Americans tonight and tomorrow, looking to continue their four-game winning streak, which is tied for third longest in the ECHL. Faceoff for both contests is scheduled for 7:05 pm CT.