Nine years ago, when Brent Thiessen arrived in Independence with his family, he had no idea if Eastern Jackson County would embrace his Missouri Mavericks.

“Nine years? Wow, it just doesn’t seem possible, does it?” asked Thiessen, the president and general manager of the newly branded Kansas City Mavericks. “It all goes by so fast. Before long, in the blink of an eye, we’re going to be preparing for our big 10th anniversary season – but we are so excited about season No. 9, for many reasons.”

“When we came here nine years ago, we wanted to prove to everyone in the Eastern Jackson County and the metro area, that we were a viable product, that we cared for our community as much as we hoped they would care about us, and that we were going to give them their money’s worth every game night,” added Thiessen, who was preparing for Saturday’s Fan Fest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. “We wanted them to know that the Mavericks were their team, and we wanted the community to take pride in the Mavericks.”

Eastern Jackson County and beyond has formed a love affair with a team that has won every CHL and ECHL honor one could imagine, except the most elusive – a championship.

“That was our goal the first season and that has been our goal all nine seasons,” Thiessen said. “I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to share the Kelly Cup with the Orange Army one day, and we are working so hard to make that happen.”

Two years ago, the Mavericks had the top record during the regular season, but fell to longtime nemesis Allen in the playoffs. Thiessen has won multiple CHL and ECHL Executive of the Year Awards and the Mavericks have been named Franchise of the Year on many occasions, but Thiessen and coach John-Scott Dickson are after that elusive team championship.

It certainly didn’t happen last season, as the team failed to make the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

“This past off season has been too long!” Thiessen said, smiling. “We’re ready to play some hockey. We like the team we have put together and we are going to get some exciting young players from our new affiliate, Calgary.”

In fact, Dickson is going to miss the Fan Fest for the first time because he is working with the front office and coaching staff of the Flames in British Columbia to get a hands-on look at the youngsters who might be coming to Independence.

“It’s going to be strange missing Fan Fest,” Dickson said, “but at least I have a good excuse. I believe we’ll get a defender, maybe a forward and I know we’ll get a goalie, maybe even two. So I’m excited to meet the guys who might be playing for the Mavericks.”’

Over Thiessen’s nine years, the Mavericks have changed leagues, owners, affiliations, coaches, names and he even had president added to his job description last month.

“With all the recent changes, there were times we felt like we were swimming upstream,” he said, laughing, “but we’re getting where we want to be and we hope our fans understand the reason for the changes.

“There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon, and like our fans, I can’t wait for the season to get started. Whenever we have Fan Fest, I always feel like the season is right around the corner.”