October 23, 2021

By Fred Liggett

The time has come for the shortest off season in Kansas City Mavericks hockey history to end and the 2021-22 regular season to begin. Due to the COVID pandemic the 2020-21 regular season didn’t end till mid-June when under normal circumstances at that time the Kelly Cup is awarded to the league champion. In a very short period of time teams in the ECHL named new coaches, new GM’s, signed new players and prepared for a more normal looking season ahead.

Despite the length of the off season the ECHL and the Mavericks have a lot to share with fans thanks to so much being new. The ECHL welcomes two expansion teams who join the league this season. They are the Iowa Heartlanders who will play games in Coralville, Iowa and the Trois-Rivieres Lions who are based in Quebec. When the puck drops on the first game of the new season the ECHL will have started its 34th season. In addition to the two expansion teams the league welcomes back 11 teams who missed last season due to COVID related issues.

The new season will see 27 teams compete for the Kelly Cup. The ECHL is now spread out over 20 states and two Canadien provinces. All 27 teams are affiliated for the season. The Mavericks continue to be an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames and the AHL’s Stockton Heat. A reminder the Mavericks ended last season out of the playoffs at 31-31-10.

There is plenty new with the Mavericks starting at the top where Head Coach Tad O’Had has added the title of Director of Hockey Operations to his title. O’Had now in his second season with the team has new assistants in Riley Weselowski and Josh Robinson. O’Had is excited to see Marcus Crawford and Tommy Much take the ice due to them “having an understanding of what we do in KC.” Other players for fans to make note of include Andrew Shortridge and Angus Redmond.

Instead of everything being new Coach O’Had now in his second year leading the Mavericks believes it’s good to “have familiarity” and the players “know the expectations of the staff.” Regarding his new assistants including Goaltender coach Josh Robinson O’Had says “having Robo around is a great comfort.”

\The time has come for the Mavericks to start a new season and the team will do it in a new place against a new team. The Mavericks open up against the expansion Iowa Heartlanders in Coralville, Iowa on October 22. The Mavs return to action the next night Saturday, Oct. 23 to host Iowa in the team’s home opener. The 13th season in Mavericks franchise history will soon be underway with all home games being played at the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence, Missouri.