“Colt 45” King.
“Colt 45” King.
The name itself conjures up images of the ol' West, where a man's trusty Colt .45 was his best friend and most important possession.
Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman doesn't live in the wild, wild West, but he coaches in the wild, wild CHL where teams trade places in the standings with a frenzied frequency that boggles the mind.
While Hillman can't control the standings, he can take solace in knowing that his trusty “Colt 45” will be on the ice each night for the Mavericks as they attempt to reach postseason action for the fourth year in a row.
Colt King, who fittingly wears No. 45 for Hillman's Mavericks, is one of the hottest players in the league. Over his last five games (at press time), he has nine points and a plus-2 plus/minus rating while his new team has won three of those games.
He just scored two goals and had an assist in the Mavericks' must-win victory Monday at Denver, a win that allowed the team to tie Denver for fourth place in the CHL standings.
“There's a reason we brought Colt to Independence,” Hillman said. “In the past, this team was missing a physical presence out on the ice. That is no longer the case.”
The first-year Mavericks had one enforcer – Carlyle “The Grim Sleeper” Lewis – but age and injuries have taken their toll on Lewis, who did not play this season.
King was the league-champion Rapid City Rush's enforcer, a player who dominated and intimidated and eventually raised the championship cup over his head.
“We needed someone like Colt, and he was eager to be a part of our team,” Hillman said. “He's already fitting in well and the boys really enjoy being around him. He's a great addition to our team.”
It's difficult to tell who was more excited about King signing with Missouri – the veteran power forward or Hillman.
“When I left Sheffield and was looking for a new team,” said King, who played in England last season, “Missouri was at the top of my list. When I played with Rapid City, we always looked forward to coming to Independence because there was so much passion in the building. It will be fun to have that passion supporting me this time around. ”
“We didn't know what to think when we played Rapid City that first season,” said former Mavericks goalie Charlie Effinger. “Colt King was a fire-breathing monster who intimidated everyone. I bet the fans love him now that he's a Maverick. I know I'd rather have him as a teammate than play against the guy . He was scary.”
When Hillman began fitting the pieces together for this season, he started with the enforcer who made life so miserable for the coach's first-year Mavericks team.
Page 2 of 3 - “We didn't know what to do with Colt that first season,” Hillman said, shaking his head as he recalled the Rush's four-game sweep of the Mavs in the second round of the playoffs.
“He has such a presence on the ice. He is a tough guy, a no-nonsense guy. He is a difference-maker. If we would have had Colt in the last playoff series against Fort Wayne, who knows? He can make that type of impact.”
The Mavericks made their best postseason appearance in 2012, reaching the final game of the Turner Conference championship series. However, they lost to Fort Wayne in seven games.
“I'm willing to do anything to help this team reach the championship series,” King said.
“There isn't a feeling in the world like hoisting that cup above your head and sharing the moment with your fans,” he added. “We had some great fans in Rapid City, and we have great fans in Independence. When I played in Sheffield, we didn't have as much success as I'd hoped, and I want to get back with a winning team.
“The fans in Sheffield were unbelievable. When we lost, they felt like they lost. And we didn't want to disappoint them. It's going to be like that with the Mavericks. Our fans are passionate, and I want to get involved with the fans in the community.
“I think that's as important as performing on the ice. This is a rare league where the fans can get close to the players and it's fun to get to know the fans and let them get to know you.”
In a recent overtime thriller against the Cutthroats, King scored the game-winning goal in the eighth round of a shootout.
“The pressure is there, because you know that everyone is looking for you to get the winning goal,” King said. “All the attention is on you, and I went out on the ice with a plan.
“But I saw (Denver goaltender Kent Patterson) leave the side open and I took the shot and it went in. But that goal doesn't mean anything if Clemmer (Mavericks goaltender Mike Clemente) doesn't stop (Sean Zimmerman, who took the final shot for Denver). Clemmer has been a rock, and a big, big reason – if not the reason – we have had so much success the last month of so.”
Earlier in that same game, King assisted on a Trevor Kell goal for his 200th career CHL point.
“I didn't even know about the 200 career points until someone mentioned it after the game,” said King, who signed a game puck and gave it to a sick Mavericks fan after the game. “Right now, all we're focused on is getting better every game – and so far, we've been doing that.”
Page 3 of 3 - King recently had to sit out several games because he caught a tooth on the middle finger of his right hand while pummeling a player on his former Rapid City team.
“I didn't think much about it until the next day, and my hand about twice the size of my left hand,” said King, who underwent surgery at Centerpoint Medical Center. “It's still not 100 percent, but it's good enough for me to play, and that's all I care about.”