Editor's note: Over the past two weeks, The Examiner has announced the members of the Missouri Mavericks' All-Time Top 10 team. Forward Andrew Courtney, who set the franchise’s single-season goal scoring mark of 34 last year, is the final member of this elite squad.
By Bill Althaus
When Belleville, Ontario, native Andrew Courtney arrived in Independence, fresh off the campus of the University of Lethbridge, he knew two things about the metro area.
“I knew the Royals and Chiefs played in Kansas City, and that was pretty much it,” said Courtney, a scoring sensation who last year established a new franchise single-season mark with 34 goals.
“Now, it's home. I feel like I've lived here a long, long time – a lot longer than three or four years (he played seven games in the 2010-11 season, before returning to the Mavericks on a fulltime basis that past three years).
“I never imagined my career with the Mavericks would turn out the way it did. I wanted to make an impact on the ice and in the community. Now, I want to be a good role model to the kids who come see us in practice, at a community event or a game, and I want to help this team bring a championship to the best fans in the league.”
Courtney has amassed 83 goals, 167 points and a plus-35 rating in 176 games to become one of the team’s and the Central Hockey League’s top offensive threats. He also has 18 goals and 30 points in 30 playoff games. But he is not worried as much about individual statistics these days.
“The team won all those awards at the CHL meetings, and I want to be a part of the ultimate goal – winning a championship,” Courtney said. “We've come close. Those two years we made it to the semifinals and lost in Game 7 to the eventual league champion, then last year we had the best record during the regular season – and none of us really know what happened in the playoffs – but we lost that first round to Arizona.
“I think with a new coach and a new attitude this is going to be a special season. I've had a great summer, but I'm ready for camp. And I know all the other guys feel the same way.”
The new coach Courtney is talking about is former Allen Americans assistant Richard Matvichuk, who said the team made a statement when it signed core players like Courtney and John-Scott Dickson to player contracts long before the start of the season.
“We wanted our first player signings to be special, and you can't get much better than Andrew Courtney and John-Scott Dickson,” said the first-year coach, a 14-year NHL veteran. “They are icons on our team and in the community. They have made an impact in Eastern Jackson County. They are the type of players and individuals we want representing the Missouri Mavericks. And we think that Andrew is going to put up even better numbers this season. He's a hard worker who we think is going to have a great year.”
Team president Brent Thiessen backed those comments, adding, “Andrew has been such an important part of this team. It's been fun watching him grow and develop into one of the real offensive forces in the CHL. He's a player who deserves to be on the all-time team.”
The Orange Army must be expecting great things, too, as Courtney is the 10th and final player to be announced on the Mavericks’ All-Time Top 10 team as voted on by the fans on the team's home website.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound forward finished the 2013-14 regular season with 68 points, a plus-12 rating and 65 penalty minutes.
“I'm so honored that the fans would vote me onto this team,” Courtney said. “I've been following all your stories about the players who have already been selected, and it really is a great list – and there are some other great players, too.
“In a short period of time, this organization has established a great tradition of players and people. The guys on this team are big in the locker room and want to make an impact in the community and I think that is why we have been embraced by the fans and play in front of a sold-out crowd every game.
“If you're playing minor league hockey, this is the only organization to be a part of.”