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The Backbone of the Kansas City Mavericks

Thursday, March 7th
The Backbone of the Kansas City Mavericks

The 2023-24 ECHL season has been one of the best seasons in Mavericks franchise history.

After clinching a postseason spot with six weeks remaining in the regular season, multiple players are nearing scoring records, coaches are reaching many different milestones and the team as a whole is at or closing in on many win and point marks. However, there is one group that has been the backbone of the Mavericks since the beginning of the season.

The trio of Kansas City goaltenders – Dillon Kelley, Jack LaFontaine and Cale Morris – led by first-year Goalie and Video Coach Rob Couturier, have been one of the ECHL’s best and most consistent netminders all year. 

“The backbone of this organization has been the solid play of our goaltenders,” said Mavericks General Manager and Head Coach, Tad O’Had. “The rigors of the ECHL can be difficult, especially for goaltenders and I believe we have the best trio in the league. A big part of our goaltending success should be attributed to Rob Couturier. Rob has an incredible demeanor and rapport with the team, he understands the fine line of communication, mentality, performance and caring for the individuals. Jack, Cale and Dillon have all been exceptional to this point in our season.”

Throughout the season, the Mavericks goaltending crew has been one of the most consistent spots on the Mavericks roster, no matter who was in net.

“The three of us get along really well,” said Kelley. “It’s a lot of fun because we are three very different goalies. I’m picking up little details from them every single day and it’s really cool to see how that works for my game. Having those two guys as my goalie partners this year has really helped me and has been a big part of my success as well.”


LaFontaine and Morris have played 10 combined AHL games this season with the Mavericks affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. While that duo was with Coachella Valley, Kelley stepped in and was an enormous part of the Mavericks success. Kelley, in his third year with Kansas City, played in 13 of 14 games in December and January, going 11-1-0-1 with a 2.30 GAA and a .914 save percentage. In that timeframe, Kelley’s 11 wins are three more than the next closest goaltender in the ECHL.  

In total this season, Kelley’s 16 wins rank in the top-10 among all ECHL goaltenders. It’s no coincidence that Kelley’s career season has come in his first year working with Couturier. 

“Rob has been awesome. Having a guy who specifically knows the position of goaltending and knows what your mindset needs to be every day and the things you go through, mentally, is huge,” Kelley stated. “Just having someone to work with every single day to keep the fine details of the game dialed in is the difference to being consistent all year long. All three of us have been exactly that – consistent. Rob is a huge testament to that.”

Prior to their AHL call-ups, LaFontaine and Morris started 19 of the team’s first 24 games. In those 19 games, the duo went 13-5-0-1 with a 2.57 GAA and saving 91 percent of shots faced. 

Morris’ great start to the season was rewarded, when he was named October’s ECHL Goaltender of the Month. 


As Kelley alluded to, the trio have three different play styles, but that is something that Couturier tries to highlight.

“All three are very talented goalies, and also very different goalies,” Couturier noted. “They each have their own style, their own attributes, and their own approach to the position. That can be tricky for a coach, but I find it to be incredibly rewarding.

The three goaltenders are all extremely close on and off the ice. A tight-knit group, they cheer each other on no matter who is in net.

“Our three goalies have all performed at an elite status,” said O’Had. “But one of the things I am most impressed by is how supportive they are of one another’s success – that is very special to see.”

“We’re three great friends away from the rink,” LaFontaine, who has 23 career NHL and AHL games played, said. “We’ve had meetings amongst the three of us where we’ve talked about the idea of having good karma and the law of attraction. We want each other to do well because that will make each other better.


Success on the ice starts with the goaltending position. The chemistry between the three goaltenders and the confidence is a key part of the team’s winning ways.

“Whoever is getting the nod that night, we’re all rooting for him and know he’s going to get the job done,” said Morris, the 2018 Mike Richter Award winner at Notre Dame. “When you’re called upon, it’s your turn to step up to the plate and do the job there. We’re all rooting for each other and it’s a healthy competition, which is unique and fun to be a part of.”

As one of just three full-time goalie coaches in the ECHL, Couturier’s presence has been a positive addition to the Mavericks locker room and on-ice success.

“Working with Cale, Jack, and Dillon this season has been a great experience,” said Couturier, who is in his first pro season after spending the previous four years at the collegiate level. "Goaltending is such a uniquely individual position within a team sport, I really think the main part of my job is helping them to extract the most performance from their own abilities and to feel confident every single time they are between the pipes.”

LaFontaine states, “Working with Rob is an absolute pleasure. He’s such a phenomenal human being. Himself as a person, he’s such a great guy to work with. He’s open-minded, he’s humble and he’s extremely intelligent.”

All three goalies are on the same page when it comes to their relationship with Couturier and the success he has brought.


“Seeing a friendly face like his coming to the rink every day is a great asset to have on the team. We all value Rob a lot and what he brings to the table,” Morris stated. “With the three of us and Rob, it’s been a great group this year and has led to a lot of our success because of our relationship off the ice and all of us being in it together and all moving in the same direction. I’m really happy to have this group and excited to keep it going.”

Notable Mavericks goaltender marks this season:

  • Kansas City is the only ECHL team to have three goaltenders with 11 or more victories each.
  • The Mavericks are one of five teams with every goalie on their roster at a .900 or better save percentage.
  • Have ranked in the top-five in goals allowed all season.
  • Dillon Kelley has achieved ECHL career highs in games played (21), wins (16) and saves (464).
  • Jack LaFontaine has recorded professional (13) and ECHL career highs in wins (11).
  • Cale Morris has also notched professional (15) and ECHL career-bests in single-season wins (13).

By: Zach Welch


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