For four years, John-Scott Dickson was a heart-and-soul member of the Kansas City Mavericks who played for the name on the front of his jersey, not the back.
Perhaps that’s one reason the coach respects Shawn Pauly, a throwback to the days when Dickson and the Mavericks were dominating opponents in the now defunct Central Hockey League.
Pauly’s second hat trick of the season helped the Mavericks get off to a great start on a three-game ECHL Mountain Division road trip as Kansas City stunned Colorado 4-1 Wednesday night at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo.
“You love a kid like Pauly, who works so hard from the opening puck drop to the end of the game,” Dickson said as the Mavericks prepared for a two-game series against the Idaho Steelheads that begins at 8:10 (CST) tonight in Boise. “We had him at a new position, playing the wing, and he looked comfortable and was certainly successful.
“He’s a player who has made real strides this season. He’s been as important as any player on the team with all the changes and injuries we’ve faced this season. And his teammates love him – when he got the empty-netter at the end of the game for the hat trick, everyone was really excited.”
While Pauly starred on offense, Adam Carlson continued to star in the net as the 30-27-0-2 Mavericks hurdled Kalamazoo to move into fourth place in the Central Division, 62 to 61 points. Kalamazoo has two games in hand on the Mavericks and did not play Wednesday night.
“That was a huge win, and everyone contributed,” said Pauly, who now leads the Mavericks with 18 goals and is sixth overall with 30 points. “We’re playing with so much confidence. It all starts with the defense and we’ve been playing great defense and Adam and Mavric (Parks) have been great in the net.”
When asked if he is a scoreboard watcher at this time of the season, Pauly said he is a reluctant viewer.
“We all know Kalamazoo has two games in hand, but if we keep playing like we’ve played the last week, we all think we control our own destiny,” Pauly said. “It’s exciting to be playing this type of hockey – Mavericks hockey, the kind of hockey Coach has wanted us to play all season – when the games mean so much.
“Yeah, I look at the standings every now and then, but none of us can concern ourselves with what other teams are doing. We just have to get the job done, and we have been able to do that the past three games and we hope to continue that this weekend in Boise.”
Pauly is the prototype that the Mavericks have sought out the past nine years.
After a game, win or lose, he will go out and visit with fans outside of the locker room, pose for photos, sign autographs and make them feel special. If there is a broken stick nearby or a puck sitting on a table, he’ll grab it and give it to a wide-eyed youngster .
“That’s the easy part of being a player, the fun part,” Pauly said. “I am so blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I love our fans, they’re the reason I’m able to play for the Mavericks. After a tough game, they make it a little bit easier to go home after a loss. After a big win, you want to share all the excitement of the win with them.”
Pauly’s presence on and off the ice has caught the attention of another fan favorite, veteran Rocco Carzo, who is out this season with a torn ACL.
“Shawn’s the type of kid you root for,” Carzo said. “Last year, he worked hard. He’d sit out some games, and come back and work harder. He kind of forced JSD (Dickson) to put him in the lineup because of his work ethic. He’s improved so much this year and has really made an impact in some of our big wins.
“No one is going to work harder than Shawn, and that’s the type of guy I want on my team.”
“I believe in Shawn, and more importantly, he believes in himself,” Dickson said. “He’s grown so much over the past two years. You know, he sat a lot of games last year, didn’t dress for games, and I always want to see how a guy reacts to that.
“Shawn did what you would hope all your players would do. He didn’t get PO’d. He worked his (rear end) off and made me put him back on the ice. He has done everything we asked of him. He’s a guy who plays for the name on the front of his jersey.”