Missouri Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson was enjoying the quiet solitude inside his office in Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
As he talked over travel plans with assistant coaches Kyle Hood and Simon Watson, it was a beehive of activity in the hallway outside – something he has become accustomed to on travel days.
Equipment manager Andrew Dvorak was preparing the equipment bags and hockey equipment for the long bus trip to Moline, Illinois, where the Mavericks will face the Quad City Mallards tonight and Saturday.
Players were coming off the ice and figuring out where to grab a quick bite to eat before climbing on board the bus for the most important two-game series of the season so far.
“How many of those have we had?” quipped Dickson, referring to the most important series of the season comment. “For the past two months, this team has been in playoff mode. Every game has been ‘the most important.’
“We have a possible 24 points to gain this season, but we can’t think of it in those terms. We have to think about getting two points Friday, then getting two points Saturday. It can be overwhelming if you think about what it will take to get us into the playoffs.
“We just need to take it one game at a time.”
The Mavericks take a 28-24-3-5 overall record into tonight’s matchup. Missouri has 64 points and is in sixth place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division behind Utah (65) and Alaska (69 points). The top four teams from each division go on to postseason play.
As several players drop by to visit with Dickson, he just grins.
“A lot of new faces, huh?” he said, as so many fan favorites like all-star Kevin Tansey, high-scoring forward Carter Verhaeghe, rock-solid goalie Eamon McAdam and tough guy Tyler Elbrecht are no longer with the team after call-ups to the American Hockey League.
“The other day at practice, Hoodie (assistant coach Kyle Hood) asked, ‘JSD, what’s that kid’s first name?’ We have a lot of new faces, but I am so proud of this team because the players who were here are welcoming the new players. We have a lot of new players, new faces, but we still feel like a team and that’s going to be important over the next 12 games.
“It’s make or break time.”
CULLITY RETURNS: Another new face will join the Mavericks in Moline, although he has been with the team in the past. The Mavericks received defenseman Pat Cullity on reassignment from the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers Thursday afternoon.
Cullity, 30, comes to the Mavericks after playing 28 games with the Sound Tigers. He is a familiar name to Mavericks fans as he suited up for 33 regular season games and five playoff games during the 2015-16 season.
Cullity, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, had three points in 28 games with the Sound Tigers.
“Remember Pat?” asked Dickson. “He’s a guy who makes a difference out on the ice. I don’t know how long he’s going to be down here, but we’re thrilled to have him back.”