As Brogan O’Brien, the newest member of the Kansas City Mavericks, conducted his second interview Monday morning, coach John-Scott Dickson walked by and quipped, “Another one? Wow, you’re a big deal.’”
There was a reason O’Brien was the most sought after player in the Mavericks’ locker room as the forward, recently signed to a amateur tryout contract, scored his first professional goal and added an assist in Saturday night’s 6-1 victory at Allen.
O’Brien, 20, comes to the Mavericks from the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. In 52 games this season, the Prince George, B.C., native scored 41 points on 17 goals and 24 assists for the Cougars, who are coached by former Mavericks coach Richard Matvichuk.
“I think Coach Matvichuk might have had something to do with my agent contacting the Mavericks,” O’Brien said. “I’m just happy to be with a team that is battling for a playoff spot. That makes it really exciting to come to a new team, because everything means so much.”
Dickson just grinned when asked about the rookie center, who he said is everything and more that Matvichuk promised.
“Richard said Brogan can play – 200 feet of hockey, he’s good at both ends of the ice – and he certainly proved that Saturday in Allen,” Dickson said. “It was his first pro game, we needed a win following Friday’s (3-2) loss to Allen and he really responded.
“He’s going to be a great addition down the stretch. We’re happy to have him.”
And O’Brien is happy to be in Independence.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know a thing about Independence or Kansas City, but I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I’m talking to the guys on the team and learning something every day. I hope to be here long enough to learn a lot about the area and help this team make the playoffs.”
After an extended period of games against Mountain Division opponents – including eight of the Mavericks’ last nine games being played outside of the Central Division – Kansas City’s two games this week are divisional contests with Wednesday’s game at Fort Wayne and Friday’s game against Indy having huge playoff implications for both teams. The Mavericks are 15-13-0-1 on the year against Central Division opponents and a combined 5-2-0-1 against this week’s opponents.
The Mavericks enter play this week tied with Kalamazoo with 70 points, but the Wings, who play South Carolina tonight, own a game in hand as well as the tiebreaker. Both teams are a single point ahead of the Indy Fuel, who have totaled 69 points.
“I think at this time of the season we’re all doing a little scoreboard watching,” Dickson said. “But we know if we play well down the stretch, even though Kalamazoo owns the tiebreaker, we still feel like we can control our own destiny.
“That win Saturday was huge. It was extension of the second and third periods we played Friday night. We got down early 3-0 (Friday) and came back and lost 3-2. After that game, I told the guys if they come out Saturday with the intensity they showed in the second and third periods Friday, we’d win. And they responded.”
With Shawn Pauly again leading the offense, the Mavericks grabbed a 2-0 lead after one period and padded that to 5-0 going into the final 20 minutes.
Pauly's first of two scores gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead in the game's first four minutes. Jared VanWormer scored his 18th at the 12:46 mark. O’Brien scored an unassisted shorthanded goal at the 5:32 mark of the second period, and Kansas City never looked back, in claiming the win over their longtime rival.
Matt Robertson, Pauly and Alex Brooks also scored for the Mavericks and Tyler Parsons stopped 28 of 29 Allen shots on goal.
“It was a big win, and like Coach said, we just played three periods like we played the second and third Friday,” said Pauly, whose recent hot streak finds him with a team-high 24 goals. “We can watch the scoreboard all we want, but we know we have to keep winning. We could have won Friday, and were so disappointed we didn’t. It was big to come back with that convincing win Saturday night.”
MAVS ADD FORWARD: The Mavericks have signed forward Logan DeNoble, 20, who recently completed his third full season with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. The left-handed shot finished the year with 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 59 games played as the captain of the Petes.
The Peterborough, Ontario, native claimed a career-best 34 goals during the 2016-17 season while he served as an alternate captain. His career-best of 22 assists came in his first full season with the Petes in 2015-16.
This season, the 5-foot-10, 194-pound forward finished second on the Petes in scoring. In his three-year stint with Peterborough, DeNoble never finished worse than sixth on the squad in offensive production.