It didn’t take long for the sold-out crowd at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Friday night to realize it was going to be a special evening.
Kansas City captain Rocco Carzo scored the first goal of this 10th anniversary campaign and the Mavericks went on to rout the arch rival Allen Americans 5-1 in the season opener for each team.
Carzo, who played in just 12 games last season before suffering an ACL injury that required nearly a year of rehab, scored at the 3:32 mark of the first period to give the Mavericks an early 1-0 lead.
“When the Captain scored, you knew it was going to be a big night,” said Mavericks reigning team MVP Mark Cooper, who added a second-period goal and an assist.
“It’s just one win, but it’s a big win. The captain got us going, we played well defensively, the forwards got the job done and the kid in the net (rookie Nick Schneider) was just outstanding. We had the barn jumping tonight.”
With his mother and father, Rocco Carzo and Kathy, in the stands, Carzo slipped the puck past Allen goalie C.J. Motte to set off a year’s worth of emotions.
“There were some tears on the bench, that’s for sure,” Carzo said, “and with my mom and dad here, I am sure there were some tears in the stands, too.”
Carzo’s father backed that statement.
“Kathy and I know how hard Rocco worked the past year to make this night happen,” his father said, “and I’m just delighted that he was able to do it in the first game of the season.
“As a parent, you are always happy when your children do well, and Rocco has worked so hard, for so long, and to see him get that goal and see the team play so well, well, that makes for a special evening.”
The score was tied 1-all after one period, when Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored at 14:22, but the rest of the night belonged to the Mavericks, who outshot the Americans 43-21.
The first goal of the second period was scored by newcomer David Dziurzynski, the older brother of Mavericks forward Darian Dziurzynski and a former NHL player.
Justin Breton then scored off a faceoff and Mark Cooper added the third goal of the period and fourth of the night for the Mavericks.
“We had a three-on-one break and a lot of times the goalie isn’t expecting a shot from that far away,” Cooper said. “I was able to get one past him.”
Schneider lavished praise on his new teammates.
“The boys did a great job defensively tonight,” said Schneider, a 21-year-old rookie, “and I’ve heard how hard Rocco worked to get back and we were all fired up after he scored.
“That kind of set the tone for the whole game. It was just an electric night all the way around. The music was hopping, the fans were great – just like all the guys said they would be. And when Allen got a little chippy, we just stood our ground and played our game and beat them.”
Jared VanWormer put the exclamation mark on the decisive win with the lone strike in the third period, a power-play goal at 6:12.
“It’s just one win, but it’s a big win, and it gets everyone excited,” VanWormer said. “Rocco got us going, pumped everyone up and we pretty much dominated the entire game.”
Coach John-Scott Dickson called it one of the best overall games he has seen the team play since he took over as head coach three years ago.
“I feel very good about all aspects of how we played tonight,” Dickson said. “We clogged up the neutral zone, our (defense) got the job done all night and we put a lot of pucks at the net – it was great.
“And to have Rocco score the first goal made it even better. No one works harder than that guy, and it just made for a great night for everyone.”