Missouri Mavericks team president and general manager Brent Thiessen has had the Midas touch when it comes to finding goaltenders for his CHL team.
The first season, a trade with the Allen Americans brought in all-time fan favorite Charlie Effinger, who helped the team reach the playoffs with some dramatic late-season victories.
Year No. 2 belonged to Robbie Nolan, the CHL Goaltender of the Year who played such an important role in yet another playoff run.
Effinger returned in the third year after playing in Europe, and Mike Clemente starred in the net the following season.
Last season, Shane Owen was among the top goalies in the league and like his predecessors, chose to leave Missouri to advance his career.
Will Josh Unice, the latest Maverick signee, join that list of former Maverick goalies who have played such an important role in the team’s development and success?
Unice, 25, was drafted by the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in the 2007 Entry Draft. Since then, he has gone on to play five seasons at the University of Western Ontario, where the Holland, Ohio, native was 58-18 with a 2.30 goals-against average.
He never lost more than five games in any season.
“Josh is a goaltender coming straight out of university with stats that speak for themselves,” first-year Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk said. “He played a couple games in the ECHL last year, and after talking with him I know he’s ready to make that jump to the next level. I’m confident we can turn him into a great professional goalie.”
“We’re going to emphasize goaltending and defense this year, and we think we have a good one with Josh. He’s excited about coming to Missouri, and we’re excited to sign him.”
Unice is equally amped up.
“To have the opportunity to play for a coach like Coach Matvichuk and to be a part of an organization like the Mavericks is very exciting,” Unice said. “I hate losing. I hate losing more than I enjoy winning, and in talking with Coach Matvichuk the past week or so, I know he feels the same way.”
Matvichuk made the same comment when he was introduced as just the second coach in the five-year history of the team.
“I hate to lose,” Matvichuk said. “And I want guys on this team who hate to lose. We’re going to build this team with guys who hate to lose more than they like to win.”
And he has a proven winner in Unice.
“At Western Ontario, I never lost more than five games in any season, and I can tell you everything about each one of those losses,” said Unice, who grew up outside of Toledo, Ohio. “They still hurt. And I know how much it hurt the Mavericks to lose in the first round of the playoffs last year after being the most successful team in the regular season.
“I live for the playoffs, and I know Coach Matvichuk feels the same way. Neither one of us were here last year to know what happened in the playoffs, but he is building a team that will be successful in the playoffs and the regular season, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”