Mavericks Sign Four Returning Players for 2011-12 Season
INDEPENDENCE, Missouri - The Missouri Mavericks announced at a press conference at Independence Events Center Monday the team has re-signed four players for the 2011-12 Central Hockey League (CHL) season. Forwards Carlyle Lewis, Derek Knowles and Nathan O'Nabigon have signed with the Mavericks along with defenseman Cole Ruwe.
"We are excited to bring back a solid nucleus of players who led this team in many ways," said Mavericks' President and General Manager Brent Thiessen. "We feel these players give us the best chance to win and we are excited to be announcing them today."
Lewis, 33 (3/1/78), is entering his 13th professional season and third with the Mavericks. The Middleton, Nova Scotia native was the captain of the Mavericks for all of the 2010-11 season and a portion of the Mavericks' inaugural season. Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound forward, is the Mavericks' all-time leader in penalty minutes with 452 penalty minutes in two seasons. Lewis has 30 points (14-1630) in 128 games played with Missouri. He joins Simon Watson as the second player on the 2011-12 roster who has played with the Mavericks since the team's inaugural season. In total, he has played in 718 regular season games in his professional career with 285 points (124-161285) and 2,516 penalty minutes. Prior to joining the Mavericks, Lewis played 166 games in the American Hockey League and 230 in the ECHL. He had a career-high 21 goals and 39 points with the Columbus Cottonmouths in 2003-04.
"We want to be a team that other teams do not like to play against because we work hard and play physical hockey every night," said Mavericks' Head Coach Scott Hillman. "In order to do that you need to have everyone on the same page, everyone buy into the concept of laying their body on the line to win the game and to protect their teammates. These four guys have proven that they will do that."
Knowles, 26 (4/6/85), returns to the Mavericks for his sophomore season. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound forward played in 38 games with the Mavericks as a rookie and totaled seven points on two goals and five assists to go along with 83 penalty minutes. The Vanderhoof, British Columbia native played the previous four seasons with the University of Guelph in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league. He finished with 62 points (30-3262) and 274 penalty minutes in 98 career games with the Gryphons. Prior to playing collegiately, Knowles played a pair of seasons with the Victoria Salsa of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) where he had 12 goals, seven assists and 217 penalty minutes in 80 games.
O'Nabigon, 28 (5/9/83), enters his fourth season in the CHL having previously played for the Rocky Mountain Rage and Allen Americans. The Longlac, Ontario native has 35 goals and 43 assists for 78 points and 171 penalty minutes in his first three professional seasons. He finished with 21 points (7-1421) in 48 games played with the Mavericks last season. Prior to joining the Mavericks, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward had 26 points on 15 goals and 11 assists in 55 games played for the Southern Conference champion Allen Americans in 2009-10. Prior to turning pro, he played four seasons at the University of New Brunswick and four seasons of junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League.
"Carlyle, Derek and Nathan all skate well for big bodies and give us the ability to really establish a heavy forecheck at home and on the road," added Hillman. "We will look for each of them to make goalies lives miserable by planting in the crease and jamming home rebounds."
Ruwe, 26 (4/2/85), is the first defenseman to sign with the Mavericks for the 2011-12 season. He is entering his third year as a pro having played for the Bloomington PrairieThunder in his rookie season and the Mavericks in his second season. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman finished with 19 points on three goals and 16 assists in 64 games with the Mavericks. He finished with a +26 rating in plus/minus which lead all defensemen in the CHL and he was tied with fellow Mavericks' defenseman Blake Forsyth. His +26 rating was also tied for fourth among all players in the CHL. Overall, Ruwe has 31 points (7-2431) and 199 penalty minutes in 141 professional games. Prior to turning pro, the Pekin, Illinois native played four seasons at Nichols College where he had 20 goals and 77 assists in 110 games.
"Cole is the first blue-liner signed and had a great season with us last year often playing against the other teams' top forwards and he was a key penalty killer for us," said Hillman. "We believe that as he becomes more comfortable in his role he will be able to add more to the offense in the coming season. I am very pleased to have these four tough guys back in a Mavericks uniform again this season."
The press conference was presented by Verizon Wireless, official wireless provider of the Missouri Mavericks. The Mavericks will begin their third season in the Central Hockey League in October 2011. Season tickets are on sale now and start at just under $11 per game. Call (816) 252-7825 or visit www.MissouriMavericks.com for more information.
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