As members of the Missouri Mavericks cut promotional spots for the upcoming season and took mug shots for the program, coach Scott Hillman sat in his office and looked at the team's depth chart.
“We're down to two players,” Hillman said. “We're heavy at goalie and defender by one. Just like we did a few years ago, I anticipate going into the season with three goaltenders. You know, in year two we did that and Robbie Nolan was not the top goalie and he wound up being the named the top goalie in the Central Hockey League.
“This year, we have three outstanding goalies (Shane Owen, Joe Howe and Erno Suomalainen) and we need to sort out the situation to see which two belong on this team. Oftentimes, that is easier when you see them in a game setting, so we will likely carry the three into the season (which starts Saturday at the first-year St. Charles Chill).”
Hillman added that highly regarded rookie forward Tyler Currier suffered a lower body injury and will be out for an extended period of time and that the Mavericks had waived defenseman Christian Fosse, defenseman Shawn Courtney and forward Devin Mantha.
That leaves the training camp roster with 12 forwards, six defensemen and the three goaltenders.
“(Kyle) Hood could play defense if we need him to, and we still have to evaluate the forward and defender positions,” Hillman said. “We like Currier and were disappointed when he got hurt. He will be on the roster at some point this season, but probably not for the first two weeks.”
Hillman said it is never easy to waive a player, but this season has been the easiest because of the low numbers of players in camp.
“We didn't bring in a lot of guys, and the guys we brought in were talented,” the veteran coach said. “They separated themselves right away, so it was a lot easier than in the past to put together the regular-season roster.”
Going into Saturday night, former Odessa Jackalopes teammates Mike Ramsay and team captain Sebastien Thinel will join Eric Castonguay on one line, followed by Colt King, Trevor Kell and Andrew Courtney.
“We'll have (rookie Rob) Kleebaum, (John-Scott) Dickson, Hood, (Evan) Vossen and (Cody) Crichton on the third line, but things will change up throughout the season,” Hillman added. “But we like how all those players are playing together right now.”
The Mavericks and Wichita Thunder announced they will again be playing for the Independence Cup, which is presented by Independence Tourism. Missouri and Wichita play a total of 10 games against each other this season and the team that earns the most wins will claim the Independence Cup and a $2,000 youth hockey scholarship.
“We look forward to renewing our rivalry with Wichita, and rightfully bringing the cup back to Independence,” Mavericks president Brent Thiessen said.
Should the teams each win five games this season, the tiebreaker will be awarded to the team with the most points in the season, followed by goal differential.
The winner will be presented with the Independence Cup on March 1 at the Independence Events Center following the 10th and final game of the season. The winner will keep possession of the cup for the following season.
The Mavericks are also introducing a new rivalry series – the Show Me Cup – with the cross-state Chill. The teams will face off a total of eight games during the regular season, and the team with the most points will win the trophy. The same tiebreakers as the Independence Cup will be in effect and the winning team will keep the trophy for a year after it is awarded March 2 following the teams’ final game at the Events Center.
“The new Show Me Cup will feature a great in-state rivalry – one we are excited to kick off this season,” Thiessen added.
The Mavericks play their first home game 7 p.m. Nov. 2 against the Denver Cutthroats.