By Fred Liggett
Following a 72-game regular season that took 5+ months to play the time has come for ECHL teams to compete for the Kelly Cup. Two of the teams advancing to the post-season begin play in Kansas City. The Kansas City Mavericks qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years and open up play against Mountain Division rival Allen Americans. The Kelly Cup has been awarded to teams since 1997 and is named in recognition of one of the founding fathers of the ECHL.
KC Mavericks head coach Tad O’Had has been here before where many of his players have not. O’Had says, “Focus on that first game.” The team practiced starting on Monday for their post-season run. O’Had said the time is here for the team to “become playoff ready” and to “be consistent.” The two days spent before playing in game one O’Had plans to provide his team the “same message.” O’Had prefers to not have his team suffer from “paralysis by analysis.”
Now that the Mavericks are in post-season mode and enter the playoffs riding high on a four game winning streak O’Had says the Mavericks “have hit our stride, have learned through adversity and this is the right time.”
Having played the Allen Americans six times during the 2022-23 regular season the Mavs know their opening round playoff opponent well. O’Had believes there “is no look to overhaul, just play a certain style.” One of the largest reasons for the Mavericks finishing the regular season on a high note came from the play of rookie defender Elias Rosen. Rosen says being in the playoffs so soon after joining the Mavericks is “really nice.” Now heading into the first pair of games at home Rosen feels it’s “going to be great.”
The Mavericks finished in third place in the ECHL’s Mountain Division at 34-30-8 while the Americans finished in second place at 37-32-3. The 2022-23 regular season saw the Mavericks go 2-3-1 against the Americans. Despite being the higher seeded team it’s Allen who goes on the road first in this ECHL’s Mountain Division semifinal round series. This is due to arena availability both in Allen, Texas as well as the home of the Mavericks, Cable Dahmer Arena.
For playoff hockey starved fans in the area they can fill up this week as the Mavericks host the first three games of the series. Game one is set for Wednesday, Apr. 19 at 7:05 p.m. Game two is the very next night Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Then comes a four day break before game three is played on Monday, Apr. 24 at 7:05 p.m. The best of seven game series then moves to Allen, Texas for game four and if needed games five through seven. To keep up on this Kelly Cup playoff first round series follow the Lee’s Summit Tribune Facebook page.