October 22, 2022

By Fred Liggett

The Kansas City Mavericks will hit the ice and drop the puck on Saturday, Oct. 22 to begin the 14th season in franchise history. When they do Mavericks fans will see a number of new faces representing the franchise as the team looks to return to the ECHL playoffs at the end of the season.

Not only are there new names and faces for Mavericks fans to get to know but a number of rules changes have been put in place by the ECHL. A record number of 11 new head coaches will be in place to start the new year. New this season for both the fans and players to get familiar with is the changes in affiliations for the Mavs. The team’s American Hockey League affiliate is now the Coachella Valley Firebirds. The Firebirds replace the Stockton Heat from the past few seasons. The Mavs are now affiliated with the National Hockey League’s Seattle Kraken who replaces the Calgary Flames.

The Mavericks finished last season 32-33-7 but that mark was not good enough for a post-season berth in the always competitive Mountain Division. Third year head coach Tad O’Had says as soon as the season ended the staff “spent a lot of time looking for roster help.” The ingredients the coaches were looking for included “character, discipline and speed.”

Training camp for the upcoming season began on Monday, Oct. 10 and what did the Mavericks roster end up with? Coach O’Had states he enters the new season with “big goaltenders, very talented forwards who are instinctual scorers.” After one full week in camp Coach O’Had feels he is “happy with the size and skill and pleased with the three goaltenders in camp.”

When fans take a look around the ECHL they will discover that Savannah is the only expansion team in the league this season. No, the Mavericks do not play them this season but when they do Mavs fans should know Savannah is known as the Ghost Pirates. ECHL welcomes a record number of coaches to the benches in 2022-23. Coaching turnover was higher than normal, but Coach O’Had says “four or five is normal, but higher this year due to opportunity, kudos to those coaches.”

Another change to become aware of are rules changes in the ECHL which include two referee and two linesman similar to the AHL. This change is a good one according to Coach O’Had “been asking for it a long time.” Coach adds this will be the case for “25% of games this season with hopes to go up to 50% and eventually 100%.” The league is also allowing one more player to be active on game days. This means having 11 forwards instead of 10 like before. Coach O’Had believes this will result in players “develop a little more, more playing in place of being in the stands.”

Mavericks fans will soon be in the stands cheering for their favorite pro hockey team as they embark on a 72-game regular season schedule that everyone hopes ends in the playoffs.