When asked if he felt like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest heading into Friday night’s home matchup against division rival Allen, Missouri Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson just chuckled.
“I’m sure that no team, especially Allen, is going to feel sorry for us,” Dickson said of losing two more standout players this week to call-ups to the American Hockey League.
High-scoring rookie forward Darren Nowick has been loaned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. It is the first AHL call-up of Nowick's career.
ECHL All-Star representative Kevin Tansey, the red-hot rookie defenseman who has played such a big role in the team’s recent success, has been recalled by the AHL’s Chicago Wolves by the St. Louis Blues.
“That’s why we’re here, to develop young players like Tansey and Nowick – and for that matter, (Carter) Verhaeghe and (Eamon) McAdam (who were recalled by Bridgeport last month),” Dickson added. “We’re proud of those guys, for what they did while they were here and for getting the chance to play in the AHL.
“We’ve had some guys who have been a bit disappointed in their playing time, and now, they’re going to get the opportunity to show us what they can do out on the ice.”
A 5-foot-10, 185-pound center, Nowick established a Mavericks’ ECHL-era record for points by a rookie and currently sits at 45.
He is sixth in the ECHL's rookie scoring race, and ranks tied for fourth among first-year skaters with 21 goals. Nowick is also the only Mavericks skater to have played in all 57 games to this point of the season.
“We’re playing our best hockey right now and everyone is excited about the rest of the season,” Nowick said last Sunday after the Mavericks topped Tulsa 6-3. “This is as tight as team as I’ve ever been on.”
Tansey had been with the Mavericks since a Nov. 14 loan from Chicago. In that time the 6-foot-4, 220-pound defender racked up 28 points in 41 games with the Mavericks.
He heads to Chicago with a six-game point streak, and is three goals away from setting a Mavericks team record for goals in a season by a defenseman. Dave Pszenyczny holds the current record with 14 in the 2011-12 campaign.
Originally signed by the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, Tansey was invited to play for the St. Louis Blues at the Traverse City Rookie Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., last September. He then attended training camp with the Blues and the Wolves before earning an AHL contract with Chicago.
Tansey was also named to the 2017 ECHL All-Star Team and earned an assist at the All-Star Classic in Glens Falls, New York, on Jan. 18.
“We’re winning, we’re having fun and we have the best fans in the ECHL,” Tansey said after Sunday’s victory. “JSD is a great coach, and we’re all learning about the game from him. I can’t think of a better place to play.”
Well, unless that place happens to be in Chicago.
The Mavericks are battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Mountain Division with 15 games left in the regular season. Entering Wednesday, the Mavs (27-23-2-5) were tied for fifth place with Utah at 61 points, three points behind fourth-place Alaska. Utah and Alaska were both in action Wednesday night.
“We’re going to be fine,” Dickson said. “You hate to lose great players and quality individuals like all four of those guys, but we’re used to it. If you’re as good as they are, you’re not going to be here for an entire season.”