INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – It has been almost a month since the Mavericks season ended in game seven of the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Since then, their opponent the Tulsa Oilers have made their way through the Idaho Steelheads, and is making their way to game seven of the Western Conference Final against the Toledo Walleye. Despite the early knockout in playoffs, Kansas City has much to celebrate from the 2018-19 season.
SEASON AT A GLANCE
The Mavericks finished their regular season with a .500 year. Their overall record was 36-30 with five overtime wins, four overtime losses, one shootout win and two shootout losses. They scored 234 goals and allowed 228. Their power play percentage ended at 18%, and were successful in 80% of their penalty kills. In the playoffs, they had a 3-3-1 record, and were outscored by the Tulsa Oilers 22-26. Their power play was successful 25% of the time, and their penalty kill finished up at 70% in this series. They kept themselves in a position to win for the majority of this series; the cards just did not fall the way they would have hoped.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
From the get-go, Rocco Carzo was the player to watch this season. After Tyler Elbrecht was picked up from Wichita, there was a “C” that needed a jersey to be placed on, and number twelve was a fitting option. Carzo faced a season-ending injury last season that meant he would go the year only playing in twelve games. He came back this season hungry and determined. Carzo played in all 72 regular season games for the Mavs, and played in all seven postseason games. Quite an upgrade from last year. However, being healthy was not his only goal. He brought a veteran presence to the locker room, and facilitated positive chemistry within his team on and off the ice.
If all that wasn’t enough, he also lead the team in scoring for the majority of the season. Mark Cooper and Jared VanWormer were huge producers for the Mavericks this year, and their skills were noticed by the American Hockey League, as they were frequently away on AHL loans. Carzo made it so their absence was not noticed by registering 59 points in the regular season with 20 goals and 39 assists. Even with Cooper and VanWormer back for the playoffs, he still put up five points in their Tulsa series. If there was any doubt Carzo would take this team under his wing and help them find success, he definitely proved that wrong.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
If you asked Mavericks fans a year ago about consistent goaltending, you may have onset an immediate headache. At any given time during the 2017-18 season, there were seven different goalies who dressed up for the Mavs, with three additional ones who were on standby but never got any ice time. This year, that number was cut down to four. With Mason McDonald eating up 36 out of 72 games, Nick Schneider taking on 21, and Ben Halford filling in for 13. McDonald was the standout, and his playing time speaks for itself: he finished with a 23-10-1-2 record in the regular season, with a .917 save percentage and 2.54 goal against average. McDonald played a crucial role in not only clinching a playoff berth with the Mavericks, but also giving them a chance to defeat Tulsa in their first round series.
He was in the conversation this season with the best goaltenders in the league, and for good reason. If you watched him at all (especially in the last minutes of a game), you would understand this kid has something special. He has a composure about him that runs through the whole team. Players talked all year in post-game interviews how great it was to have him behind them. Even when they fell short, they felt his efforts deserved a win. He also had many flashes of incredible plays where he made point-blank saves that were beyond belief. This team would not be the team it was this season without the efforts of McDonald.
While Mavericks fans take a break from hockey, it is exciting to look back on the successes of the year as well as the standout players. While October seems far away, the potential of the future Kansas City squad is something to be excited about in the coming season.