The Kansas City Mavericks closed out their season Saturday with a 2-0 loss to the Utah Grizzlies in a game that seemed all too familiar to coach John-Scott Dickson.
“In many respects, Saturday’s game was a microcosm of our entire season,” Dickson said as the team put the finishing touches on the 2018 season before a sell-out crowd 10,200 at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah. “As has been the case so often this season, we didn’t come out that strong in the first period, but we played extremely well in the second and third periods.
“But like it has been the case so often this season, we struggled offensively. We had a couple of open-net opportunities and couldn’t score. And that’s frustrating – it’s frustrating for me and Hoodie (assistant coach Kyle Hood), our players and our fans.
“However, that being said, I think we had a team that was playoff caliber. We lost some games early that really hurt and those losses came back to haunt us. We didn’t get it done at the end of the season, and we needed some help from other teams to get past Kalamazoo and Indy, and that’s always frustrating.
“We didn’t control our playoff destiny and we didn’t make the playoffs. That was something we addressed after the game.”
The Mavericks closed out their season with a 34-32-4-2 record and 74 points to finish sixth in the ECHL’s Central Division. Only the top four teams in each division advance to the playoffs. The Mavericks, who were eliminated Friday, have now missed postseason play the past two seasons.
The game was the fourth time this season the Mavericks failed to score a goal. Grizzlies goalie Joel Rumpel turned away 35 shots in a game that the Mavericks seemed to dominate at both ends.
The Mavericks carried play for the majority of the game and finished with an advantage of 35-28 in shots on goal. They held a 26-13 advantage through the first 40 minutes.
Utah’s Jake Marchment scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the first period, and Sam Babintsev added an insurance goal in the second.
Defenseman and team captain Tyler Elbrecht finished the season as the lone Kansas City iron man, playing in all 72 games. Mark Cooper, who played in 68, led the Mavericks in points with 47 on 23 goals and 24 assists.
The Mavericks will host an end-of-season signing event tonight from 5:30 through 8 p.m. at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. The event is free to the public.
“It’s always a bittersweet event,” said Dickson, who spent most of Monday making travel arrangements for players on the team. “We’re going to do our exit interviews on Tuesday, have the event Tuesday night and most of the guys will be heading out of town later in the week.”