Coach Richard Matvichuk is on a mission to make the 2014-15 Missouri Mavericks the best team in the six-year history of the Central Hockey League squad.
“We wanted our first player signings to be special, and you can't get much better than Andrew Courtney and John-Scott Dickson,” the first-year coach said Tuesday afternoon after the team announced that the veteran forwards had signed contracts for the upcoming season. “They are icons on our team and in the community. They have made an impact in Eastern Jackson County. They are the type of players and individuals we want representing the Missouri Mavericks.”
Team president Brent Thiessen backed those comments, adding, “We wanted to get these two signed as quickly as possible. These guys have formed a great core for our team.”
Matvichuk has been in Independence since last Friday, where he greeted an overflow crowd at a jersey unveiling party at Strikerz Family Entertainment Center. The former Allen Americans assistant coach and former NHL standout said he is working non-stop to make this the most competitive Mavericks squad in team history. Last year's team finished with a single-season record 44 wins but lost to Arizona in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Andrew Courtney and John-Scott Dickson have been part of this team for a long time; the depth and experience they bring to a locker room made it an easy decision for the team to welcome them back as leaders and key playmakers,” Matvichuk said. “These guys are fan favorites and great role models in the community.”
Courtney has played for Missouri the past four seasons. He has scored 83 goals in that span and set a single-season franchise record with 34 goals last season. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound forward finished the 2013-14 regular season with 68 points, a plus-12 rating and 65 penalty minutes.
“I'm so excited,” Courtney said Tuesday afternoon. “Coach Matvichuk is going to bring a new style, a new approach to the team that the players and fans are going to love. He's an intense guy, and I like that. His style is different from Scott's (Scott Hillman, the former Mavericks coach who took a job coaching the ECHL's new team in Indianapolis), and that's going to be good.
“They're both proven winners. We have a great nucleus, and Coach Matvichuk is going to sign key players from last year's team and he talked about bringing in some new players. The season doesn't start for another three months, but I wish it started tomorrow.”
Dickson has played for the Mavericks for the past three seasons, contributing 68 goals and 74 assists. The 6-3, 215-pound left wing finished the last week of the regular season off the ice due to an injury, but finished with 20 goals, 17 assists and 25 penalty minutes. Dickson has been strong on special teams, scoring five power-play goals and adding four power-play assists last season to give him 22 power-play goals and 14 power-play assists the past three years.
“I am thrilled to be back with the Mavericks,” Dickson said Tuesday morning. “This is a first-class organization from top to bottom. Playing in front of the Orange Army every night is a special experience, and I'm looking forward to getting the season started.”
Matvichuk said the team has until July 1 to offer contracts to and sign players off last year's roster.
“It's non-stop and I love the intensity and excitement that comes when you're trying to sign the core players,” he said. “The next eight days are going to be big, and they're going to be intense. I'm calling guys, they're calling me – my phone is blowing up – everyone wants to be a part of this organization.”