Colt King is a veteran who owns a Central Hockey League championship ring. Yet the Missouri Mavericks forward admits to feeling like a kid, in his first game back following a three-game suspension.
His presence was felt in all phases of the game as he scored two goals – including his first game-winner – in a 4-1 victory over archrival Wichita Friday night at the Independence Events Center before a second-consecutive sellout crowd of 5,800.
“It was great coming back from the suspension,” said King, who along with teammate Dave Pszenyczny returned from a three-game hiatus following their involvement in a melee at Arizona earlier this season, “but tonight I felt like a kid out there – like it was the first game of the season.
“Chez and I both hated to miss the home opener last week, so this was our home opener and we wanted to go out and make an impact.”
As King (who led Rapid City to a title in 2009) talked to the media, Pszenyczny rode an exercise bike and listened to his comments.
“King put on a show tonight, huh?” said Pszenyczny, grinning from ear to ear. “It's so good to get back, to be a part of all the success we're having out there. There is a tough team, and I'm not just talking about Kinger. He's the best, but this season, everyone is flexing their muscles.”
And that muscle flexing has resulted in a 7-0-0 start, the best in the five-year history of the team.
“We played a pretty solid 60 minutes tonight,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “It wasn't as flashy as it has been, but that's all right. It was 60 minutes of solid hockey all the way around – offense, defense, the play of Shane Owen in the goal. We've eliminated a lot of our mistakes, we're playing tough hockey and we're getting great play from everyone we put out on the ice.”
When asked about the return of King and Pszenyczny, the coach simply said, “They both played with a lot of energy. They hated to be out of the lineup and you could see the boys rally for them, because their teammates knew Kinger and Chezy stood up for them in Arizona.
“Now, that they are back in the lineup, we're that much stronger. King does such a great job in front of the net – no one is going to push him around – and he can put the puck in the back of the net. Chezy just brings an energy – they both do.
“I know (1-6-3) Wichita is struggling, but that is still a very good team, and we have to play the same way (Saturday night at Wichita) to find a way to beat them once again.”
After a scoreless first period, Colten Hayes gave the Mavericks a short-lived 1-0 lead before Wichita's Jared Walker scored on a power play to knot the score at 1-all.
The rest of the night belonged to the Mavericks as King scored on an even-strength goal to give the Mavericks a 2-1 lead and followed with a power-play goal to make it 3-1.
Andrew Courtney, who had a hat trick in the home opener, followed with a goal in the third period to give Owen a bit more breathing room and a 4-1 lead.
“The boys are playing great in front of me,” said Owen, who improved to 5-0 on the season and lowered his goals against average to a CHL-best 1.57.
“Our defense is amazing. They stopped everything in front of the net, and all their shots were from the outside, where I could see them and react. We're 7-0 and having some fun. We don't want this ride to end.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC