Osburn happy to return to Mavericks

By Bill Althaus
Kansas City Mavericks defenseman Zach Osburn tries to get around Indy Fuel forward Michael Doherty in a game last season. Osburn, who was named to the ECHL All-Star Game in his rookie season, has re-signed with the Mavericks for the 2020-21 season.

The craziness of last year, with the Kansas City Mavericks’ disappointing season coming to an early end because of the COVID-19 pandemic, left a lasting impression on Zach Osburn.

The 2019-20 rookie, who made such an impact that he was in the American Hockey League with the Stockton Heat when the season ended, re-signed with the Mavericks for the upcoming season and said he can’t wait to get back to Independence.

“When you get your itinerary, and see the dates for the opening games of the season, it all seems real,” Osburn said by phone Thursday evening. “I’ve been following the team and this might be the most competitive camp I’ve been a part of because they’re bringing a lot of talented players, guys who have won everywhere they’ve been.”

Zach Osburn

Osburn, a 5-foot-11, 181-pound defenseman from Plymouth, Mich., had 27 points on seven goals and 20 assists in 50 games with the Mavericks last season. The former Michigan State standout also played five games with Stockton.

“Zach had a tremendous rookie campaign last year for the Mavericks,” new coach Tad O’Had said. “He is an excellent mobile skating D-man with a strong stick, great on-ice awareness and creativity.

“We have always liked what Zach brings to the club with regards to work ethic, personality, character, skills and overall grit. We see Osburn being a part of the solution and are excited to have surrounded him with such exceptional talent, skill and leadership for this upcoming season.”

Osburn said he has heard nothing but good things about O’Had and his approach to hockey.

“I’ve had some great conversations with Tad, and I’ve talked to (former Mavericks teammate) Rocco (Carzo, who played for O’Had in Florida) and he loves him,” Osburn said. “He said he is so passionate, and I really like it when I hear that about a coach.”

O’Had said Osburn has the talent to make the climb from the ECHL to the AHL and feels fortunate to have him on this season’s roster.

“Zach is a player we have continued to pursue all offseason long,” O’Had continued. “He made it known that he loved his time in Kansas City and he is so excited to be coming back to play in front of the Orange Army.”

Osburn, who was selected as an ECHL All-Star for the 2020 Warrior/ECHL All-Star Classic, backs that comment.

“I can’t wait to get back in town,” Osburn said. “I’m eager to meet my new teammates, meet Coach O’Had, see Kohl (Schultz, assistant coach) and all the guys.

“Last year didn’t go like we’d hoped, and I really think we could be a force this year. We look good on paper and now we’ll have to see how we look on the ice once camp starts.”