Missouri Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson was excited when he found out the Manchester Monarchs were looking to trade defenseman Zach Tolkinen, who played a key role in the team’s record-setting ECHL season last year.
“We saw Zach’s name and were a little bit surprised and very excited,” Dickson said after the Mavericks traded future considerations for the 6-foot-3, 190-pound defenseman. “He can play D (defense) and he’s a solid character guy. He will help this team on the ice and in the locker room. We are a better team today because we have Zach back.”
Tolkinen, 27, returns to Missouri, where he finished the 2015-16 season with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists), eight penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating in 30 games following a trade from Elmira on Feb. 2. He also contributed two points (1 goal, 1 assist) during the Mavericks' 2016 Kelly Cup playoff run.
A former Quinnipiac University standout, Tolkinen began the season with the ECHL's Rapid City Rush and logged four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 24 games. Rapid City sent Tolkinen to Manchester to complete the future considerations portion of a trade that sent Michael Boivin from the Monarchs to the Rush, but Tolkinen did not dress in a game for the Monarchs.
“I couldn’t be happier to come back to the Mavericks,” said Tolkinen, who took part in a nearly two-hour practice session Tuesday morning at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. “We made that great run last year (winning the most games in the regular season), then fell short of our goal of winning a championship in the playoffs.
“I got traded and was a little disappointed, and now I am thrilled to be back. I see a few familiar faces like Courts (team captain Andrew Courtney) and Robo (goalie Josh Robinson) and my goal this week is to learn the name of all my teammates.”
Tolkinen was also happy to find out that acclimation might go a little smoother.
“With John-Scott as the head coach (he served as an assistant last year to Richard Matvichuk), we still do a lot of the same things we did last year, so I’m comfortable where I am,” he said. “And we don’t play until Friday, so I have a whole week to get acclimated to a new team and new teammates.”
The Mavericks (12-15-1-4) will play the rival Wichita Thunder Friday and Saturday at the SEC Arena. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m. and Saturday’s at 7:05.
“I don’t play a real sexy game, but I like to think I do the little things that help a team win – like get the puck out, push it up the ice, block the occasional shot and score a goal or two when I get the chance,” Tolkinen said. “I’m not Bobby Orr – you’re not going to see me take the puck coast to coast and score. If you do, I hope it ends up on YouTube because I’ll want to watch it.”
TANSEY NAMED ALL-STAR: The Mavericks also announced Tuesday that rookie defenseman Kevin Tansey has been selected to represent the team at the 2017 CCM/ECHL All-Star Classic in Glens Falls, N.Y. on Jan. 18.
Tansey, 23, has posted 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 16 games for the Mavericks. His .63 points-per-game average is seventh best among rookie defensemen who have played in 10 games or more. The rookie out of Clarkson University began the season with the Chicago Wolves, the Mavericks’ American Hockey League affiliate, where he had 19 penalty minutes in 12 games.
The All-Star Classic will feature the host Adirondack Thunder taking on the ECHL All-Stars in a non-traditional format featuring 5-on-5, 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 play, as well as skills competitions (puck relay, hardest shot, fastest skater) to highlight the talents of both teams.
The game will be carried live on NHL Network at 8 p.m. Jan. 18.
WOLVES RECALL PLAYER: In a separate transaction, rookie forward Sam Povorozniouk has been recalled from his loan to the Mavericks by the AHL's Chicago Wolves.
With the Mavericks, Povorozniouk tallied 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists), a minus-7 rating and 16 penalty minutes in 27 games. His 11 goals tied Dane Fox and Rocco Carzo for the team lead and his 18 points were fourth best.
He has not yet played with the Wolves this season after being signed by Chicago following a 62-point season (39 goals, 23 assists) with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.