INDEPENDENCE, Mo.- Andrew Shortridge led the Kansas City Mavericks to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Wichita Thunder on Tuesday night. Though the game was rather uneventful outside of the two goals scored by the Mavericks, Kansas City played a full 60 minutes of shutdown, tightly controlled hockey.
Coming off of a 3-1 loss to the same Wichita Thunder on Sunday, Coach Tad O’Had stressed playing a full 60 minutes of hockey and his team fulfilled his challenge on Tuesday. In addition to Shortridge, several players stood out in a game where everyone played well. These players go beyond the “three stars of the game” and their performances deserve further examination.
It goes without saying that a 27-save shutout is no easy feat. But Andrew Shortridge made it look easy on Tuesday night. Stopping a multitude of high danger shots, including one that was practically on the goal line, Shortridge slammed the door shut on the Thunder to earn his first shutout of the season. Shortridge was a shining star for the Mavericks last year, and having him signed to a two-way deal by Stockton is a great advantage for Kansas City. After missing some time early this season with an injury, Shortridge is already rounding into form.
Michaud has been an absolute stud for the Mavericks since being assigned by Stockton. The 26-year-old native of Cloquet, Minnesota is scoring at a more than a point per game clip, including adding two assists on both Mavericks’ goals Tuesday night. He also had six shots on goal on Tuesday. His stat sheet speaks for itself, but his skating and stamina are also huge assets for the forward. Michaud has sneaky speed and several times so far this season has seemed to appear out of nowhere at precisely the right time. He plays huge minutes and he scores huge goals. What’s not to like?
Harrison is a veteran leader on the team and he shows it every night. Even on nights where he doesn’t get on the stat sheet, he is contributing. He has proven to be a faceoff master early on this season, and his leadership has been rewarded with an alternate captain’s “A” on his sweater. On Tuesday night, Harrison scored both goals for the Mavericks. On the first goal, he caught the puck at the blueline, rushed in, and scored by beating Evan Buitenhuis on his blocker side. His second goal came off of a rebound from a high-quality initial shot by Michaud. Tuesday was by far his best game of the season so far.
Schiavo is an interesting case. Having played a stint in the past for the Mavericks where he really fell flat and didn’t produce much, expectations were low for him after he signed a contract with the Mavericks this season. And his first game honestly wasn’t much to write home about. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. But on Tuesday night, O’Had slotted him in on defense, rather than his usual forward position. In that role, Schiavo thrived as a D-man. He had several sneaky plays throughout the game that created great scoring opportunities, and he came up strong defensively at several points. Schiavo may just be saving his career. He needs to keep it up.
Mikael Robidoux has a reputation. He is rather…infamous. After earning himself a four-game suspension after opening weekend, and leading the whole league in penalty minutes with 42, many expected more of the same from Robidoux on Tuesday as he returned. But instead, Robidoux showed that he can be tough and disciplined. Robidoux was everywhere on the ice. He was killing penalties, he got some power play time, and he saw decent 5-on-5 time as well. He hustled hard the whole game, including beating out an icing call in the second period, and he showed decent enough puck handling when need be. But his most impressive move in the whole game came when Andrew Shortridge was knocked down in the second period. Rather than going berserk like some may have expected him to, instead, he stood at the top of the crease. Standing there stoically, and intimidatingly, he sent the message that no one messes with him and his team. And he sent this message without a single punch being thrown. This is huge growth on the young forward’s part.
The strength of this Mavericks team comes from the sum of all its parts. The whole team is playing well, and they are playing for each other. They clearly trust each other and their coaches immensely. Teams that have a strong bond like this tend to succeed. The Mavericks are starting to look like something they haven’t looked like in a while: contenders.
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