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Examiner
  • Healthy Kell valuable for Mavs

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  • Trevor Kell is a goaltender’s best friend. "I know I’ve told you this 100 times," Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said after a fun-filled morning skate and conditioning session with his 8-0-0 team, "but Trevor Kell not only leads this team in blocked shots, he has to lead the league. "When we lost him last year, it was devastating to the team. This year, he's healthy, he's having fun and he's making an impact every time he is on the ice." Not only is he a shot blocker, but Kell also is an offensive weapon. He is tied for second on the team with 10 points this season – Sebastien Thinel leads with 13 and Andrew Courtney also has 10 points – and is third with a plus-6 rating. His eight assists are tied with Thinel for the team lead and are tied for sixth-best in the CHL as of Tuesday. "Trevor is a great guy and a great player," an appreciative goaltender Shane Owen said. "The guys who play in front of me are the best, and I always know that Trevor is going to do everything he can to make my job easy. "If he can block a shot, he's going to do it. He's a team guy – but this season, every player on this team is a team guy. The chemistry is unbelievable. I'm a new guy, but Trevor and the other veterans made all the first-year guys seem welcome, like we were joining their family. "And I think that's the biggest reason for our success. We really care about each other and never want to let anyone down. It's just an incredible feeling out on the ice and in the locker room." As players seem to savor every moment in the locker room, Kell was asked about his injury-plagued 2012-13 season. "Let's see, I missed 19 games with the foot injury, then I missed – well, let's see – let's just say I missed way too many games,” said Kell, who played in just 39 of the Mavericks' 66 games last season, totaling 34 points on 10 goals and 24 assists. "To be healthy, to get off to this 8-0 start, to be a part of a special team this season is just awesome. "I can't even put into words how much fun I'm having this season, because I've been able to contribute to this start and not just sit and watch like I had to do so much of last season.” Unlike many of his teammates, who have never experienced a start like this, Kell was part of a 2004-05 London Knights team that started off with an incredible 29-0 run en route to the Ontario Hockey League championship. "This team feels like that team," Kell said. "There is the same chemistry on the ice and here in the locker room. The guys on this team are playing for each other – we're not playing to keep the winning streak alive, although it's important to keep winning and playing well – but when you have the bond that this team has, you just want to work hard in practice and in the games." As Kell talks about the season, several teammates walk by and razz him about sitting for an interview. It's good-natured and brings a smile to the 27-year-old forward's face. "There are no egos on this team," Kell said. "You don't have egos in a family, and all you have to do is look around to see we’re a family." Players are making lunch plans, making sure they have rides to a charity event later that evening at the Independence Events Center and spending as much time in the locker room as possible. "That's how we wanted to build this team, and it looks like we're successful," Hillman said. "And players like Trevor are so important. Like all the veterans on this team, he just cares about one thing – winning. And I think that's the biggest reason we're off to this successful start." GOALIE REPEATS HONOR: The CHL announced Tuesday that Owen has been named Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week for the second week in a row. Owen, 23, stopped 51 of 52 shots in 4-1 and 3-0 wins over the Wichita Thunder last week. He is ranked first among Central Hockey League goaltenders with a 1.32 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. The Shanty Bay, Ontario, native has wins in all six of his starts. Owen has made 165 saves and allowed only eight goals in 365 minutes. "He made a couple huge saves in the last two games that could have been turning points and given Wichita momentum," Hillman said. "His team has a ton of confidence in him, and that is something that can only be earned." The Mavericks have allowed the fewest goals (12) in the CHL.
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