Following a disappointing lost weekend in which they dropped two of three games, the Missouri Mavericks hit the ice Tuesday morning with a newfound enthusiasm – especially from captain Sebastien Thinel and the team’s associate captains Andrew Courtney and David Rutherford.
“Before practice this morning, I had a captains-only meeting, to see what they thought of the first 10 games and where the team is right now,” Matvichuk said Tuesday morning, after the Mavericks saw their record dip to 5-5 with 3-1 losses to the Allen Americans and Wichita Thunder sandwiched around a 7-4 victory Saturday night at Tulsa.
“We talked about the system, the things we need to do to be successful and we’re all on the same page, which is a good thing. If you’re not on the same page at this point of the season, you’re not going to be here much longe," Matvichuk added. “I liked what the guys had to say. No one likes a two-loss weekend, but it’s like I’ve told ... the guys out there (in the locker room), it’s a long season and when we play the system, we’re fine. We’re even dominating at times.
“We played so well Saturday in Tulsa, and we played a great first period in Wichita Sunday, then we quit playing the system, made some mistakes, and it cost us the game.”
Thinel and Courtney, two longtime Maverick star forwards, understand where Matvichuk is coming from.
“It is frustrating when we do what coach asks us to do, we’re very successful, but a mistake usually results in a goal,” Thinel said. “We are all on the same page when it comes to doing what Coach wants, but we have so many new players and many of the new players are having to think, rather than just play, when they’re in the game.
“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, as much as any Mavericks team I have been a part of, but we are still learning how to play Coach’s system and how to play alongside each other. We have a week to get ready for this weekend (Tulsa at home Friday, at Wichita Saturday and Quad City as home Sunday), and we’re going to work hard in practice this week to make sure we give our fans something to cheer about.”
TWO TRADES: The revolving door continued to turn Tuesday as the Mavericks traded for defenseman Brendan Rempel and forward Josh Brittain.
Brittain, 24, who is entering his fifth season as a professional, was selected by the Anaheim Ducks during the third round (71st overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The 6-foot-5, 233-pound forward split last season between the Reading Royals and the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Finding ways to score in the clutch, Brittain led the Royals with six game-winning goals, including setting a team-record with three consecutive game-winning goals from Feb. 28 to March 7.
“The kid can put the puck in the back of the net, and we need that right now,” said Matvichuk, as the Mavericks have been held to just one goal in two of their last three games (3-1 losses to Allen and Wichita). “He’s a player and he’s going to help this team."
Two seasons ago, Brittain divided his time between the Fort Wayne Komets and the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. Brittain finished the season leading the Komets with a plus-10 efficiency rating.
Prior to turning pro, Brittain played four years of junior hockey with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, Barrie Colts and Plymouth Whalers, racking up 152 points (80 goals, 72 assists) in 258 games. A former OHL All-Star, Brittain also captured a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 World Championship.
Rempel, 23, played four years at Harvard, graduating in 2013. He had a goal and 10 assists in 81 games. Prior to college, he played 79 games with the USNTDP U-18 and U.S. National U-18 teams, scoring 15 points.
“We were playing with six left-handed defensemen in Wichita and good teams will use that to their advantage, making you use your backhand,” Matvichuk added. “This kid is a good, right-handed defenseman who we think will make us a better team.”
Matvichuk said no roster moves had been finalized to make room for the two new players.
“We’ll figure it all out Wednesday,” Matvichuk said. “We’ll definitely be making some roster moves. We’re so close to where we want to be – now, we’re even closer.”