As Josh Robinson checked his equipment and began to leave the Missouri Mavericks locker room following an intense practice Wednesday morning, someone asked the reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Year what it was like to be back in Independence after a stretch in which the team played 10 of 12 games on the road.
“We’re home six days in a row this week,” Robinson said with a small laugh. “I don’t think we were home six days all last month.”
The Mavericks enter a stretch where they play three games in a row on home ice at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, with contests against the Alaska Aces Friday and Saturday and the Tulsa Oilers on Monday.
Missouri enters play this week five points out of fourth place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division, and will prepare to take on the Aces at home for the first time in team history.
“We’re two games under .500 and five points out of fourth place, and we can make up some ground at home this week,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson said of his 9-11-1-3 team. “We have that killer stretch in our schedule out of the way, where we lived on the road, but we survived and now we’re back home with the best fans in the league supporting us.”
The Mavericks will need that support as Alaska enters this week trailing first-place Colorado by two points and sporting a 6-1-1-2 record in its last 10 games. Alaska is 6-2-1-1 on the road this season and has the league’s fifth-best winning percentage on the road at .700. Friday and Saturday mark the only two meetings this season between the two Mountain Division foes. The Aces feature the first- and third-leading scorers in the ECHL. Forward Peter Sivak is tied for the points lead with Allen’s Chad Costello with 37 and leads the league with 21 goals. Stephen Perfetto is third in points with 31 on 12 goals and 19 assists in just 17 games.
“We respect Alaska, but we can’t fear them,” Dickson added. “We have the youngest team in the league and our young guys are finding out what the pro game is all about. We lost our last two – two games we could have easily won – but we have to take away the positives from each of those games.”
Assistant coach Kyle Hood was quick to add, “The young guys are learning one very important lesson. You have to play good, consistent hockey for 60 minutes. We play good hockey for 40 minutes, but that’s not good enough. We’ve been down 3-0, made a strong comeback, and lost 4-3. We’ve been ahead 5-1 and let that lead slip away and lose in overtime. Those things don’t happen if we play consistent hockey for 60 minutes because even though we’re young, we have a lot of talent on this team.”
• The Mavericks return to the airwaves Friday night as “Friday Night Ice” provides live television broadcast coverage of all Mavericks Friday home games on KSMO, channel 62 (Comcast Cable channel 10, 810 HD). The pregame show begins at 7 p.m. followed by the opening faceoff at 7:35. Joel Goldberg provides play-by-play coverage and Simon Watson provides color analysis.
• In the spirit of the holiday season and making a positive difference in people's lives, the Mavericks are hosting HoKCey & Hope for the Holidays this weekend. The Mavericks have partnered with five charities whose missions are to help local children in need on two unforgettable promotions.
The Mavericks host Childhood Cancer Awareness Night Friday, presented by CCR Roofing. The team will wear special cancer fighter jerseys for the game, and the jerseys will be auctioned off live immediately after the game. Proceeds from the auction will go to Braden’s Hope, a foundation dedicated to battling pediatric cancer. Additionally, the Mavericks are hosting a bandage drive to benefit Noah’s Bandage Project, which provides fun and “cool” bandages to young cancer victims. The Mavericks are asking fans to bring boxes of cartoon, superhero or other “cool” bandages to the game Friday to donate.
• The Mavericks' annual Teddy Bear Toss presented by Certified Radon takes place Saturday night. The Mavericks ask that every fan bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to the game and then throw it onto the ice when the Mavericks score their first goal. Every teddy that is tossed will be donated to the Shadow Buddies Foundation, Friends of Special People and Community Services League. They will then distribute the stuffed animals to children in need throughout the region.