The day has finally come. It’s Christmas in October. Your Kansas City Mavericks kick off the 2019-20 season Friday night in Tulsa. The Orange Army is chomping at the bit and so are we to see this team in action. While we got a taste with the annual scrimmage and preseason bout with the Allen Americans, it doesn’t compare to regular season action. We’ll finally get that Friday night in Tulsa.
There are several returning players to this team, household names that we all have grown to know and love over the last few seasons. But, there are also quite a few new faces to mix, especially on the defensive side of the puck. Let’s meet your 2019-20 Kansas City Mavericks:
#13 Neal Goff2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 0G, 8A, 61 PIM ; Playoffs 0G, 0A, 4 PIM
What we know: While Goff didn’t light up the scoreboard for the Mavericks last year, he became their most dominant defensive presence on the ice. When Goff went down with an injury late in the season, the Mavericks defensive core struggled with positioning and lacked that quarterback of the powerplay that Goff provided. Goff also ate up valuable penalty kill minutes and was an intimidating physical presence each time he hopped over the boards.
What to expect: The Mavericks are hoping that they get the same Neal Goff they saw last year on the defensive end. He is a game changer and we liken his game to Colton Parayko in that he has a similar size and a similar game. Goff can handle the puck and has good vision up the ice; something this Mavericks team is built around. The Mavs would love to see Goff start to put it together offensively this season. He has a cannon of a slapper and jumping in front of it is just plain silly. Goff needs to get that huge slapper on net more often this season to set up rebound attempts off the goalie or off the back boards. Don’t get caught up in the goal number, but keep an eye on the assist number throughout this campaign.
#16 Greg Betzold2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 25G, 31A, 44 PIM; Playoffs 1G, 3A, 4 PIM
What we know: Betzold exploded on the scene with a torrid stretch at the midpoint of the 18-19 season; going from a guy that was on the brink of potentially not making the team to a guy that was a fixture on the top line. Betzold found his shot and play making ability last year when the Mavericks needed it the most as they battled injuries to numerous forwards. Betzold was a fixture on the powerplay and became a player that had to be accounted for each time he was on the ice. Betzold became a physical presence, as well.
What to expect: The Mavericks are hoping that what they saw last season becomes the norm for Betzold and he becomes a dominant force in this league. If he can put it all together over an entire season, Betzold has the potential to be an 80-90 point contributor over a full season. His two-way play will determine how much time he spends on special teams; assuming he finds his way onto the powerplay lines, expect big things.
#10 Corey Durocher2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 18G, 18A, 12 PIM; Playoffs 5G, 2A, 4 PIM
What we know: Durocher is an electric scorer and playmaker on the ice. Using his 6’3” frame to create matchup nightmares, Durocher is an excellent puck handler and can create plays from anywhere on the ice. After battling an early injury last season, Durocher became a consistent scorer for the Mavs. His play in the postseason further cemented him as a priority signing in the offseason.
What to expect: Stay healthy and do what you do is the mantra for Durocher this season. Despite a nasty looking upper body injury in the preseason tilt with Allen, the Mavs expect Durocher on the ice early this season and they’ll be looking to get his scoring going early and often. Durocher is a physical presence in front of the net and is capable of creating scoring opportunities in tight areas. Those things combine to make him a nightmare for the opposition to deal with. The Mavs will look for his game to continue to develop on the defensive end, as that will create opportunities in transition.
#23 C.J. Eick2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 12G, 15A, 24 PIM; Playoffs 1G, 1A
What we know: Eick packs a lot of punch into a small frame. As the Orange Army found out quickly last year, Eick is a player to watch each time he hits the ice. Using a combination of speed and positioning, Eick uses his 5’7” frame to its fullest potential. Never one to back down from a matchup, Eick is pivotal to the Mavs success on the penalty kill. He also creates matchup issues on the third line and gives JSD the “jump” he’s always looking for.
What to expect: Eick has a well defined game and a role that he is quite comfortable with on this squad. He is a leader on the ice and brings a lot of hockey IQ to this overall young team. Eick epitomizes everything JSD wants in a player and plays the game the right way. Expect a similar season on the scoring sheet to last year, but it’s what Eick brings to the table that doesn’t show up on the scoresheet that is more important.
#7 Darian Dziurzynski2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 27G, 21A, 73 PIM; Playoffs 2G. 1A, 4 PIM
What we know: DZ7 was brought in to do one thing last year...score. And that he did. While battling through some nagging injuries throughout the season, DZ7 put together a solid campaign in his first full season with the Mavs. Playing alongside his brother for the first time in his career, Darian found a spot on the Carzo line for most of the season. He played well and provided a physical presence that was an added benefit for the squad.
What to expect: DZ7 is as good of a forward you will find in this league. With a high hockey IQ, positioning is key to creating scoring chances. DZ also creates scoring chances in transition and is a huge part of the powerplay for the Mavs. In years that DZ7 has been healthy and played an entire season, his scoring output has always been consistent. Mavs fans can expect that to continue, in addition to the leadership he provides on and off the ice.
#22 David Dziurzynski2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 18G, 30A, 96 PIM
What we know: Dizzy was an assist machine throughout the 2018-19 campaign. A mammoth at 6’3” and a solid 225 lbs, Dizzy was a pest in front of the net and a load to deal with in transition. While not exactly known for his passing prowess, David found ways to feed the puck to his teammates while playing on the third line with Eick and Mike Panowyk throughout a good chunk of the season. Dizzy also ate up important minutes on special teams and gave the Mavs the physical presence they needed on the ice from time to time.
What to expect: At 30 years old, expect much of the same from Dizzy. If he can stay healthy and chip in 50-60 points this season, the Mavericks will take that all day long. Fans would like to see David use his size more often in a physical role, but staying healthy is just as important, so don’t expect to see a “heavy” game night in and night out. The veteran will bring the heavy game as needed and continue to be a leader in the locker room, as well.
#12 Rocco Carzo2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 20G, 39A, 44 PIM; Playoffs 1G, 4A, 4 PIM
What we know: The captain returns for his fifth campaign with the team. After a devastating knee injury two seasons ago, Carzo returned stronger than ever and recorded the first goal of the season in his first game back. With a lot to prove to himself and the league, Carzo reminded everyone why he sets the standard for what two way forwards should look like. With his trademarked shot blocking and backchecking, Carzo’s leadership and knack for doing things that don’t show up on the scoresheet are simply irreplaceable. Bringing him back for another run at the Kelly Cup was a priority, and rightfully so. Carzo’s ability to pass the puck through traffic and find space to work in the dirty areas, makes him invaluable on the powerplay. His fearless attitude towards blocking shots makes him invaluable on the penalty kill.
What to expect: Carzo being Carzo. The Mavericks expect Carzo to continue his two way game, smart play with the puck, and backchecking prowess this season. His relentless pursuit of the puck and his leadership in the locker room make him the most important cog in the machine for this team. The Mavericks will look to him to lead a young squad to a deep playoff run and a chance at the Kelly Cup.
#14 Loren Ulett2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 3G, 5A, 93 PIM; Playoffs 2G, 0A, 10 PIM
What we know: A heavy physical force, Loren is a player that the opposition needs to be aware of. Available to drop the gloves with anyone, anywhere, Ulett brings a distinct thud to the checking game of the Mavs. A player that JSD loved during last year's camp but just didn’t have a spot for, Ulett went to the SPHL before getting the call up to the Mavs. Once up, Ulett’s play didn’t allow JSD to remove him from the lineup; he was simply too important down the stretch. While Loren didn’t light up the scoreboard, his physical presence on the ice more than made up for what showed up on the scoresheet.
What to expect: The Mavericks will use Ulett to create matchup issues for other teams that have to deal with his size and strength in front of the net. Ulett’s ability to play forward and defense makes him all the more valuable for this squad. Expect Ulett to rotate positions as needed to create those mismatches and expect Ulett to continue to develop his offensive game. Loren is a smart hockey player and knows how to use his size to create space and deliver some punishment along the boards.
New Kids on the Block
#2 Zach Osburn2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 3G, 12A, 28 PIM (36 GP with Michigan State University, 1 GP with the Milwaukee Admirals)
What we know: There is a lot of hype surrounding Osburn as he is highly regarded throughout the Calgary Flames system. With tremendous vision and playmaking ability, he will be a key cog in JSD’s system on both ends of the ice.
What to expect: The expectations are certainly high. If he performs at the level that he is capable of, he may not spend a lot of time in Kansas City, as I’m sure Stockton is closely monitoring his development. We’ll savor every minute that he is a part of this roster.
#3 Kevin McKernan2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 6G, 22A, 44 PIM (60 GP with the South Carolina Stingrays)
What we know: Acquired in the Mark Cooper trade, McKernan is looking to take the next step after an impressive rookie campaign in South Carolina. He has the makings of a top-four defenseman and has impressed so far in a Mavs sweater.
What to expect: Another piece to this retooled blue line, McKernan will need to take that next step in his development, especially with the talented forwards in this division, and there’s no reason to expect that he won’t. While it’s only a short sample size, he appears to be a smart player that stays home and doesn’t lose positioning in the defensive end.
#4 Derek Pratt2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 2G, 16A, 78 PIM (63 GP with the Maine Mariners, 1 GP with the Utica Comets)
What we know: There was a lot of excitement when the acquisition of Pratt was announced. He’ll have big shoes to fill as the Mavericks shipped Jordan Klimek to Maine to get him. Another top-four type of defenseman (a recurring theme) for JSD, Pratt has the ability to handle the bigger forwards in the division with his large frame (6-2, 190lb).
What to expect: There’s no question that defense was a top priority for JSD this offseason and Pratt will play a big role in the defensive efforts. After an impressive season in Maine against some tough opposition, Pratt will look to continue that high level of play here in the Midwest. If the defensive unit can find their chemistry early, this team will be tough to score against.
#5 Terrance Amorosa2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 1G, 5A, 6 PIM (12 GP with the Tulsa Oilers)
What we know: After making his professional debut last season with Tulsa, the former 5th round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers earned himself an AHL deal with the Stockton Heat. Amorosa is another player that will be closely watched by Stockton and rightfully so.
What to expect: This one is tough to say. We haven’t gotten to see much of Amorosa, but the reviews have been gleaming from those inside the organization. After only 12 games in the ECHL last season, to earn an AHL deal just shows how much promise and potential Stockton sees in him. He will be another vital piece in this new-look defense for JSD.
#8 Justin Woods2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 9G, 11A, 27 PIM (44 GP with the Jacksonville IceMen, 9 GP with the Manitoba Moose)
What we know: While there’s been a lot of hype surrounding several of the aforementioned players, the most prized acquisition of the offseason could quite possibly be Woods. A true game-changer from the blue line, Woods will be essential for what this team is trying to do both defensively and on special teams.
What to expect: Big things. Woods made a name for himself with his exceptional play last season, and this year he has the potential to turn into a star. At 6-2, 206lbs, he has the size to handle any forward that should dare enter his realm. The Mavs have raved about his presence on the ice, and his intelligence with and without the puck.
#9 Jack Walker2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 8G, 19A, 45 PIM (38 GP with the Utah Grizzlies, 15 GP with the Aalborg Pirates in Denmark)
What we know: Walker joins the Mavs after a half-season with the division rival Grizzlies. With good hands and quickness, Walker can open up scoring chances for himself anytime he is near the puck. The former 6th round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs will thrive in JSD’s system.
What to expect: While much of the offseason effort was spent on the blue line, Walker was one of the key newcomers JSD sought on the offensive side of the puck. We got a glimpse of what he is capable of when he roofed a wrister through traffic over the shoulder of Nick Schneider in the annual scrimmage game. He has the ability to be a 20+ goal scorer in this league.
#17 Ryan Van Stralen2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 8G, 11A, 87 PIM (57 GP with the Wichita Thunder)
What we know: Van Stralen is someone that we are all very familiar with, as he played in 73 games with Wichita over the last two seasons. He is a large man (6-3, 220lbs) and uses his large frame to the max. He skates well, especially for his size, and willingly steps in for a teammate when someone steps out of line.
What to expect: Van Stralen will have several opportunities to put the puck in the net, especially on special teams. During the preseason, JSD had Van Stralen camped out in front of the opposing goaltender, making it nearly impossible to see around him. Given his size, strength, and skating ability, Van Stralen could be utilized in a way that he never was in Wichita, and that could prove dividends for the Mavs this season.
#18 Mitch Hults2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 7G, 24A, 34 PIM (2 GP with the San Diego Gulls, 9 GP with the Syracuse Crunch, 40 GP with the Orlando Solar Bears)
What we know: Hults has tremendous ability and some really good hands. As his vision on the ice improves, he will continue to develop into a bonafide playmaker. Hults is another player that Stockton will keep tabs on after assigning him here prior to camp.
What to expect: Under the tutelage of JSD and new Assistant Coach Kohl Schultz, Hults will have all of the resources to take that next step in his development. He’ll see plenty of ice time as well, given what he is capable of with the puck on his stick. Another incredible resource for Hults to soak in will be the veterans in the locker room like Carzo and the Dziurzynski brothers.
#19 Bryan Lemos2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 3G, 3A, 0 PIM (17 GP with Providence College)
What we know: Lemos was an under the radar signing over the offseason, and a relative unknown. He seemed to be a depth piece on this roster, but his performance so far in camp and the preseason would say otherwise. He has made the most of this opportunity, impressing the masses with his play. He has a high motor which puts him in fratuitous situations around the net.
What to expect: It’s tough to say, but this is a player that JSD has to love on his roster. He is constantly moving his feet, helps on both sides of the puck, and just never stops working. If he keeps working as hard as he has so far, he can play some big time minutes for this team.
#20 Ryan Galt2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 5G, 4A, 48 PIM (35 GP with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, 4 GP with the Utah Grizzlies)
What we know: Honestly, we don’t know much about Galt so far, but he’s worked his way into a roster spot, so that definitely counts for something. Much like Lemos, Galt has shown his work ethic on the ice, and every team needs greasers to go down into the dirty areas and win pucks.
What to expect: Every year, there is a relative unknown who becomes a fan-favorite. The Orange Army loves those guys who work their tails off and leave everything on the ice every night. Galt may not be a guy who puts up points, but he can be a guy that can help this team every time he steps out onto the ice. If he keeps working hard, he’ll continue to have an important role on this team.
#21 John Furgele2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 8G, 16A, 48 PIM (51 GP with the Maine Mariners, 15 GP with the Atlanta Gladiators)
What we know: One of the training camp standouts, Furgele was acquired from Atlanta over the offseason. He has impressed with his ability to move the puck up the ice both with his skating ability, and his accurate passing. He has also shown keen instincts on jumping into rushes and creating scoring opportunities. Last year's team assists leader Willie Raskob departed for Europe over the offseason after putting up significant offensive numbers last year, and Furgele has the chance to step into that role and more this season.
What to expect: Yet another toy for JSD and Schultz defensively. Furgele tends to be overshadowed when talking about the new faces on defense, but he shouldn’t be. His play so far in a Mavs sweater proves that, and if he continues to develop and improve, look out.
#26 Cole Fraser2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 5G, 16A, 74 PIM (60 GP with Peterborough Petes)
What we know: Fraser is young (only 20 years old) and enters his rookie season with a wealth of knowledge and ability to learn from in front of him. A big kid (6-2, 201lbs) and he’s not afraid to throw his body around. He has the potential to be a force, but will need to gain some confidence and soak up as much as he can from his teammates and coaching staff. He looked a little tentative at times during the preseason, but that can be expected during his first taste of professional hockey.
What to expect: As the eight defenseman on this roster, his opportunities may not be plentiful, but he needs to take advantage of any time he can get some game action. Even more importantly, he will need to keep his body and mind fresh, and spend as much time in the film room with JSD and Schultz to learn how to improve his game.
#29 Tad Kozun2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 18G, 32A, 109 PIM (59 GP with the South Carolina Stingrays)
What we know: Kozun was the second half of the return for Cooper in the trade with South Carolina, and was more of a known commodity than McKernan. After a great season with the Stingrays, Kozun could be a wildcard for this team. He has obvious ability to get to the net and be disruptive, but needs to be consistent shift-to-shift. He’s another guy who isn’t afraid to mix it up, and can be a spark plug when needed for this team.
What to expect: It’s easy to expect 20+ goals from a guy who put up 18 in just 59 games last season, but putting the puck in the net won’t necessarily be his primary focus. The Mavs have plenty of guys who can do that, which will allow Kozun to play a little more freely offensively. With Cooper and Jared VanWormer now gone, there will be some valuable minutes to make up on the penalty kill, which could turn into a niche for Kozun if given the opportunity.
#1 Hayden Hawkey2018-19 Stats: Regular Season 24-12-5 record with a 1.88 GAA and .921 Save % (41 GP with Providence College)
What we know: The collegiate numbers are beyond impressive. His worst goals against average was a 2.19. His worst save percentage was a .913. There are many goalies who can’t hit those numbers in their best season. Those were his career worst at Providence College. He was thrust into the starting role after Schneider was called up to Stockton, and hasn’t disappointed.
What to expect: The Mavericks have been blessed with a long history of great goaltending. Hawkey could certainly make a name for himself if Schneider spends a significant amount of time in the AHL. He has good body control, is quick post-to-post with impressive lateral movement, and his rebound control has been good early on. He’ll have every chance to stake his claim as this team’s number one goaltender while Schneider fills in for the Heat, and given his track record, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t make the most of this opportunity.
The Mountain Division will once again be stacked this year, and the Mavericks have put themselves in a position to stake claim as the team to watch. We know what this team can do offensively, but if this defensive unit can come together early on in the season, goals will be hard to come by for the opposition. The most successful teams in this organization’s history have been built from the back end, with a stout defense and strong goaltending. JSD built this team exactly in that manner.
The Mavericks gave up a ton of shots, especially late in the season last year. The early returns on the blueline are promising, as the Mavs only allowed 15 shots on goal in their 3-2 loss to Allen last week. As the blueline goes, so will the Mavs this year.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this team, and rightfully so. On paper, this team has tremendous talent on both sides of the puck, JSD continues to prove to be a leader of men on and off the ice, and the addition of Kohl Schultz to the coaching staff has opened doors that many didn’t know existed. His knowledge and resources bring a whole new dynamic to this organization. This team is primed for success. If they can buy into what JSD and Schultz are teaching, and leave it all out on the ice every night, they will be a force to be reckoned with. The Kelly Cup is in their sights.
It's time to go get it.