It’s been quite a week for the Kansas City Mavericks and coach John-Scott Dickson as some familiar faces are returning to the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena to help his ECHL team make a run at claiming its first Kelly Cup title.
On Wednesday, the Mavericks announced Patch Alber would return to Independence, and on Thursday they announced that Bryce Aneloski would return to join Alber on the defensive line.
“Quite a week, huh?” said Dickson, who is piecing together a strong defensive unit that might rival the one that helped the team finished with the best regular-season record in the ECHL two years ago.
“What happened this week speaks volumes about Brent Thiessen, our general manager, our organization and our fans. Patch and Bryce were here before, were traded away, and are now very excited to return to the Mavericks.
“What Brent has done here the past eight years is pretty amazing. This is a great organization to play for and our fans are the best. They make the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena the place to be on game nights and guys realize that.”
Aneloski, 27, played for the Mavericks for the entire 2015-16 season and the beginning of 2016-17. In his first season with the Mavericks, Aneloski led all defensemen with 28 points (8 goals, 20 assists).
Thiessen shares Dickson’s excitement over the signing of Aneloski.
“Bryce is a great addition to this year’s team,” Thiessen said. “He was a key contributor on our Brabham Cup-winning team, a defenseman who is capable of a high caliber of play on both ends of the ice. We believe that Bryce can help set the standard for our entire defense corps.”
Overall, Aneloski played in 76 regular season games with the Mavericks and claimed 35 points (8 goals, 27 assists) with a plus-24 rating. Aneloski helped the Mavericks win the Brabham Cup and went on to post six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games in the Kelly Cup Playoffs that season.
“It was a no-brainer to rejoin an unbelievable organization that has treated me right from day one,” Aneloski said. “I know I’ll have a chance to do something special with this organization. I have incredible respect for Brent and John-Scott.
“This is a great opportunity for me to come back and help the Mavericks become the next Kansas City team to win a championship.”
Kansas City acquired the rights to Aneloski, who received a qualifying offer from the Florida Everblades, via trade on Wednesday. In exchange, the Mavericks sent the rights to goaltender Josh Robinson to Florida. Robinson had previously notified the Mavs that he planned on taking a coaching role with the Everblades.
After starting with the Mavericks last season and totaling seven assists in nine games, he played 35 games in the American Hockey League with the Bakersfield Condors and had five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in the higher level league. He finished the season with a goal and an assist in three regular season games and two assists in 12 postseason games with the Everblades.
“Bryce is a great addition to our defense corps,” Dickson said. “He can play in all situations and adds great experience to our group. He’s another high-character man that has a great connection with this community. We couldn’t be happier to have Bryce back with the Mavericks.”
A seventh round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators, Aneloski has played at the AHL level in each season since turning pro in 2013-14. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman has skated for the Toronto Marlies, Iowa Wild, Providence Bruins, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Bakersfield in his four full seasons of professional hockey. In 50 games with AHL teams, Aneloski has two goals and six assists.
With all the additions on defense, Dickson wants fans to know he has not forgotten about the importance of adding offense to the Mavericks.
“We’re working on adding some names fans will recognize, some guys who can put the puck in the back of the net,” he said. “It’s too early to talk about that now, but I’m really excited about the way this team is shaping up.”