The Missouri Mavericks have officially signed defenseman Mathieu Gagnon to their roster.
“Mathieu is coming in today,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said early Wednesday morning. “He's going to be a nice addition to the team.”
To make room on the roster for Gagnon, the Mavs released defenseman Evan Zych.
Gagnon, 21, a native of Gatineau, Quebec, joins the Mavericks from the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals, where he recorded one goal, two assists and 21 penalty minutes in 22 games.
He will be in the lineup Friday night when the Mavericks visit the Allen Americans to battle for first place in the Central Hockey League standings.
The Mavericks stand alone atop the CHL with 58 points. Rapid City is tied for second with Allen (56 points). The Rush played host to Tulsa late Wednesday night.
The Mavericks and Americans will play home and home games Friday and Saturday, with the Mavericks playing host to Allen at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Independence Events Center. The Mavericks then play host to the Quad City Mallards at 4:05 p.m. Sunday.
“Another big weekend,” Hillman said, chuckling. “How many times have I told you that the past few months? From here on out, every weekend is big, but this is very important because you have two teams playing each other for first place and you have two teams that don't face each other much the rest of the season.
“We can put some separation between us and the Americans with a four-point weekend against them, and then we have to find the energy to get the job done against Quad City on Sunday.”
The Mavericks won their first two games last weekend, then lost 3-0 Sunday at Wichita. Hillman believes this weekend won't be quite as grueling because of the way the schedule is arranged.
“Last weekend, were on the road (Wichita), home (against Allen), then on the road,” the coach said. “This weekend, we play at Allen on Friday, then are home against Allen and Quad City and the best fans in the CHL are going to give the boys extra energy Saturday and Sunday.
“Our team really looks forward to the energy we get at home games because of the great atmosphere created by our fans.”
One player who will not need an extra motivation Saturday night is forward Andrew Courtney, who is sitting out a two-game suspension because of a boarding incident last Saturday against Allen.
He sat out Sunday's 3-0 loss at Wichita and will sit out Friday night's game at Allen.
“I can't wait to get back in the lineup Saturday,” Courtney said. “It's frustrating to have this second suspension. I cannot afford to let the team down again. The makeup of this team is special, because we have had so many suspensions this season and the guys always pick up the pace and have success when we're missing a player or two.
“When I get back Saturday, it's going to be special. We're playing for first place and I was part of the teams the past two seasons that lost Game 7 of the semifinals on the road. We need to finish at the top of the standings so we have home ice throughout the postseason.
“We've played well on the road this season, but when it comes playoff time, you want that home ice advantage.”
While the team will not have Courtney, John-Scott Dickson returned to action last Sunday in Wichita.
“JSD has had that (lower body) injury, and it's great to have him back,” Hillman said. “We're going to miss Courts, but the boys have done a great job taking their game up a notch when someone has been injured, ill or suspended.”