It took a moment for former Kansas City Mavericks all-star forward Jared VanWormer to get his bearings as he entered Silverstein Eye Centers Arena as a member of the visiting Allen Americans Tuesday morning.
“Yeah, just a little bit different,” said VanWormer, who did not score in the Americans’ 4-2 win Tuesday morning at the Mavericks’ annual 10:35 a.m. Kids Day Game.
More than 4,500 students from 27 schools around the metro area attended the game and provided a high-energy environment for the early morning hours.
“A lot more amenities in the home locker room,” VanWormer added. “I think I dressed in here once for a practice or intrasquad game, something like that. I was wondering what it would be like to come back and the fans were great. They’re always great here at the arena.”
Many Mavericks fans wore VanWormer jerseys they purchased in auctions over the past few years. The ECHL all-star representative from Kansas City last year was dealt to Norfolk in the offseason for future considerations when the two sides could not reach a contract agreement.
“It’s a business and I understand that,” said VanWormer, who was wearing a captain’s C on his new red jersey. “I didn’t report to Norfolk and eventually, we were able to work out a deal. I got traded to Allen, a team that’s had a lot of success.
“I know what a great rivalry this team has had with the Mavericks over the years. Allen won those four straight championships, and you can’t argue with that kind of success, so it will be interesting to see where things go this season.”
The Americans also featured former Maverick Corey Durocher, who was released by Kansas City on Nov. 8 to make room for a pair of players assigned by the American Hockey League affiliate Stockton Heat.
The lone bright spots for the Mavericks Tuesday were a shorthanded goal by C.J. Eick in the second period and Mitch Hults’ third period goal.
“We played well much of the game, but again, mental mistakes cost us two goals – and that’s what the guys in the locker room are talking about right now,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said.
“They’re talking about accountability – and I’m talking about the new guys, the veterans, everyone – and that is something a coach likes to see. We had a lot of opportunities and didn’t get enough goals today, but if we play like we did in the second and third periods and cut down on mental mistakes, we’ll be fine.”
Allen took a 1-0 lead 9:36 into the first period on a goal from Gabriel Gagne. The Americans doubled their lead on an unassisted goal by Tyler Sheehy at 17:20.
Kansas City cut the lead to 2-1 on Eick’s shorthanded goal midway through the second period, but the Americans extended their lead back to two on Gagne’s second goal of the night at the 18:29 mark.
Hults again made it a one-goal game at 13:44 of the third period, but that was all the offense the Mavericks could produce.
“For a minute I thought Hults was going to pass,” Dickson said, “and I would have gone out and choked him (laughing). He has a great shot and needs to take more shots on goal.”
Hults chuckled at Dickson’s feigned threat and said, “I was thinking about passing. Many coaches have told me to shoot more, but I am always looking to pass the puck. I’m happy I took that shot!”
In the final seconds, Allen got an empty-net goal from Josh Lammon to seal the win.
HOT HULTS: Hults extended his points streak to six games with his goal and now has 10 points on four goals and six assists in his last six games.
KILLING IT: The Mavericks penalty kill unit has killed off 39 of its last 40 penalties and have only allowed two power play goals in nine games this month.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Mavericks hit the road for a four-game road trip beginning this weekend with two games against the Idaho Steelheads before traveling to Wichita on Thanksgiving weekend for two games against the Thunder Nov. 29-30.