There is an old saying that goes, “Blink, and you’ll miss it.”
Well, if you blinked too much in 2017, you missed half of the Kansas City Mavericks’ 2017-18 ECHL season.
That’s because coach John-Scott Dickson’s 18-16-0-1 team has played half its games in just 2 1/2 months of the season. They have played at least three more games than any other team in the Central Division.
“It’s crazy,” Dickson said following Tuesday’s practice session at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. “We played half our games in 2017 and that was with playing just one game the first week of the season.
“We’ve had some long, long road trips – luckily my kids and wife still recognize me – and now we’re going to be home for a while and we have to make the most of it.”
The Mavericks, who have won four of their last five, just wrapped up a seven-game road trip and returned home Sunday with a thrilling 4-3 shootout win over the Tulsa Oilers in the annual New Year’s Eve contest.
“We got eight of 14 points on the road and four of those games were against two of the hottest team in the league – Allen and Wichita – so I’m happy where we are right now. Not totally satisfied – you can never be totally satisfied in this league – but the boys are playing hard and we had a good week last week, a very good week.”
The Mavericks have 37 points and sit in fourth place in the Central Division, six points ahead of the fifth-place Kalamazoo Wings, who visit Silverstein Eye Centers Arena at 7:05 p.m. Friday. The Mavericks also play host to the last-place Quad City Mallards at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
“We can have a great weekend with four points against two division rivals,” Dickson said. “We demand a lot from our guys, and we’ve had some guys rise to the occasion with all the injuries we’ve had this season.”
The team has lost associate captain Rocco Carzo (ACL) for the season, and Darren Nowick and Mike McMurtry (the leading scorer) have been sidelined.
Goalie Tyler Parsons has been out with an injury and Mason McDonald was recently called up by the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat, so Dickson has been pressed to find some quality replacements in the net.
Kent Patterson starred in Sunday’s 4-3 win, and the Mavericks are visiting with some other goalies to fill the void left by McDonald’s departure.
“Some things might happen,” Dickson said. “Right now, we have one goalie and Kent has been great. He’s 28, a veteran guy who knows how to play the game and he has been great in the locker room.”
• Forward Eric Freschi closed out 2017 with 10 points in the final five games with a plus-11 rating in those games. The forward scored the game-tying goal in the New Year’s Eve victory. McMurtry is 13th in the ECHL with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists).
• Following a season-long seven-game road trip, the Mavericks kicked off a stretch of 17 home games in 22 overall games through the end of February with the New Year’s Eve win over Tulsa. Fourteen of those contests come against Central Division competition. From Jan. 19 through Feb. 3, the Mavericks have eight consecutive home games against Toledo, Rapid City, Colorado and Cincinnati.
• At the end of the 2017 portion of the season schedule, the Mavericks and Stockton have exchanged only two players – defenseman Kayle Doetzel and McDonald heading west to California.