INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Mavericks road woes appeared to follow them home as they have dropped the last three games, two of which were on home ice. Last Friday, Kansas City went to Wichita and were shutout 4-0. The next night, they hosted the Thunder and while they walked away with a point, a disappointing overtime loss is the bigger storyline.
As the roster has shuffled, thanks to the in-season combination of attrition and call-ups, some of the Mavericks key players in production for the first half of the season have fallen silent. Jared VanWormer and Mark Cooper were big-time players through the first part of the season, but hard work does not go unrecognized, both got a shot at the AHL level. VanWormer played four games with the Milwaukee Admirals where he registered an assist but has since returned to KC. Cooper is currently with the San Antonio Rampage on a loan and has played in two games so far.
Coach John-Scott Dickson realizes there are adjustments that need to be made in the game when players like that get called up:
“We’re trying to manage some of the guys ice too. Having Coop gone kills the penalty kill a little bit with the minutes. We’re trying to spread it out. Maybe have some guys on net that maybe haven’t killed as much just to give some of the guys that played penalty kill some energy on 5 on 5. Guys like Sides, David Dziurzynski, Rocco, Worms, those guys play a lot of minutes, so you want to manage their minutes for when 5 on 5 comes they’re feeling good.”
You can’t help but think what type of difference Cooper would have made in a game like Saturday’s, where the Mavericks were stoned on several breakaway opportunities, which seem to be Cooper’s specialty. After spotting Wichita the first goal, the Mavericks appeared to shrug off their goal-scoring funk, putting up the next four goals in a 15-minute span from the first to the second periods. But, Wichita came back steadily and with a purpose. A late Wichita goal put them on top of the Mavericks 5-4, but Darian Dziurzynski netted his hat-trick goal with 44 seconds to go in regulation to keep the Mavs alive a little while longer. Wichita scored on a 2-on-0 breakaway in overtime, leaving Silverstein Eye Centers Arena with the extra point, and Maverick coaches and players with a tough pill to swallow.
Dziurzynski reflected post-game:
“It’s tough. It’s a team sport. If you don’t come out with two points you’re never feeling good after the game. It’s a little bittersweet on a game like that.”
He also went on to talk about he is appreciative of the fact the Mavericks left with a point but is frustrated that the two points were on their stick and he felt as if the team threw them away.
VanWormer scored a goal in that game, but also realizes the flaws in Kansas City’s game right now, saying: “Gotta clean up some errors in our game that we have been struggling with. Definitely our d-zone and neutral zone.”
VanWormer will also head to Toledo for the All-Star weekend where he will represent the Mavericks and participate in the hardest shot challenge tonight. VanWormer humbly says:
“It’s a huge honor. At the beginning of the year, I just wanted to work hard, and I think the points just came. That’s not a big part of my game but I’m glad I got recognized for that. I’m happy to represent Kansas City the best way that I can.”
Vanwormer leads the team in goals with 14 on the year and 30 points total.
After this past weekend series, the Mavericks have a .539 win percentage on the season and have fallen to fifth in the Mountain Division, but have several important tiebreakers on the Wichita Thunder. The Mavs will be back home to host the Utah Grizzlies for a huge division matchup on Friday night.