The captain was feeling a bit frisky following a recent Kansas City Mavericks practice at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
As Rocco Carzo walked past coach John-Scott Dickson’s office, he took a peek inside and said, “JSD isn’t here, so I can tell you what I really think.”
He and teammate Cliff Watson shared a good laugh before the veteran Mavericks forward went into a detailed explanation of why the team has started 2020 with a 4-1 record, that includes a two-game sweep of the ECHL Mountain Division-leading Allen Americans, deep in the heart of Texas.
“We’ve talked since before the season started, and I always told that this team has the chance to be special, really special,” said Carzo, who leads the Mavericks with 24 points. “We got off the rough start, but we always believed in ourselves and JSD. We have a lot of talent, and that talent is really becoming more and more apparent with every game we play.
“The sweep in Allen was huge. Not only did we beat a team that’s ahead of us in our division, we got four points that we really need if we’re going to make a run at a playoff spot.
“We’re into the season, we’re into a new year, and it’s time we start playing like we’re capable of playing and we have done that the past five games.”
The Mavericks are 16-16-2-0 and have 34 points, as they sit in sixth place in the Mountain Division. Wichita (38) and Rapid City (41) sit atop the Mavericks in fifth and four place, respectively. The top four teams in each division advance to postseason play.
“We got a taste of the postseason last year after missing it the year before, and everyone wants to get back this year,” Carzo said. “This organization deserves it, our fans deserve it, and we’re going to do everything possible to make it happen.”
The Mavericks have two of the best young goalies in the league in Tyler Parsons (7-3, 2.69 GAA) and Nick Schneider (9-10, 3.05), who each won a game at Allen.
“Those four points at Allen were huge, and it was so cool to be a part of it,” Schneider said. “To beat a team that had the most points of any team in the league (55) when we went down there made it even more special.
“Now, we have to go to Tulsa and Wichita this weekend and do our best to get four more points. Every game is so important now. And we all know that.”
Parsons echoed his teammate’s comments, adding, “It doesn’t matter who’s in the net. I know Nick is cheering for me and I’m all in for Nick. We just want to win, and we’re really playing good hockey right now.
“And you can see that everyone is loose and relaxed and ready to play.”
And Dickson said that it’s important to know the difference between confidence and going into the remainder of the season with a false sense of security.
“When I watch the guys play, or watch at practice and the way I see them interact in the locker room, I see a confident team,” Dickson said. “And we’re stressing the importance of keep grinding, keep working hard, keep getting those hard-fought greasy wins.
“We’re not a team that’s big on skill, but we aren’t going to let another team outwork us. No one in this locker room thinks that all we have to do it lace up our skates to go out and get a win – it doesn’t work that way.
“In the last four wins, I have seen the team we’ve been looking for all season and we hope to see a lot more of that team the rest of the way.”
TRAINER AN ALL-STAR: The ECHL announced Wednesday that Mavericks head athletic trainer Nick Potter has been named the trainer for the 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic.
The game will be played at 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita and will air live on NHL Network (Comcast cable channel 276).
Potter is in his fifth season with the Mavericks. A graduate of Western Michigan University, Potter had spent seven seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs prior to joining the Mavericks staff. Potter was honored as the ECHL Head Athletic Trainer of the Year for the 2018-19 season.
“Nick is one of the most trusted and respected people in our organization,” Dickson said. “It’s great to see him get honored at the league level once again.”