Day one is in the books, and Kansas City Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson skated off the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena ice Tuesday morning sporting a big smile.
“Most practices aren’t going to be that long,” said Dickson, as his players joined him following a two-hour skate, “but we had a lot to get done today. I really liked what I saw out there. It was very competitive and we set a good pace – not a lot of standing around.
“It’s the first day of practice, but with so many guys back from last year’s team and so much talent out there, I felt like I was coaching a team and not a bunch of guys on their first day of practice.”
That theme was echoed by team president and general manager Brent Thiessen, who watched the practice from above the ice, near his office.
“We had a meeting with the players,” Thiessen said, “and we stressed that this was going to be a competitive preseason and the competition was going to continue throughout the season.
“We’re a proud franchise that has missed the playoffs just twice in the past eight years. We did not make the playoffs last year, and this year our goal is to get back to the postseason and make a run at winning a championship.”
There were 22 players on the ice, which is the number an ECHL team can have on its roster to start the season. The Mavericks received goaltender Mason McDonald from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Stockton Heat, on Tuesday.
“We expect to get one, maybe two players from Stockton, so this is going to be a very competitive camp,” Dickson added. “We may have to make a cut after the Orange-Black Game (at 6 p.m. today at SEC Arena), which is tough, because you don’t really get to see the players in practice that much. But that’s life in the ECHL. That’s why Brent and I are stressing that it’s going to be competitive and we want to see the best from every player out on the ice.”
That’s fine with veteran forward Rocco Carzo, who is expected to maintain his standing as a team leader both on and off the ice, this season.
“It was a good first practice,” Carzo said. “We have a lot of talent, and for the guys who were here last year, it was a long offseason because we didn’t make the playoffs. It was great getting back out on the ice, but we’re all looking forward to our first game and getting the season started.”
Dickson is excited about getting McDonald from Stockton. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder was a second-round pick (34th overall) by the parent club Calgary Flames in the 2014 draft..
“Mason is going to be a great addition to our team,” Dickson said. “Like any second-round pick, his dream is to play in the NHL and we’re going to do our best to see that he reaches that goal.
“He has a great attitude from what we’ve seen in camp and we have a veteran in Ty Rimmer that Mason can watch and learn from. I got to see him work in Stockton and I was impressed. We’re all excited to see what he brings to the team.”
McDonald, 21, played 29 games for the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder last season, finishing with a 2.72 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage while compiling a 13-9-3 record. He also helped Canada to a gold medal in the U18 World Juniors in 2013, being named best goaltender of the tournament with a 1.94 GAA and .930 save percentage.
• The Mavericks are encouraging fans to bring new or gently worn clothing, canned food or monetary donations for the Community Services League to today’s intrasquad game, which has free admission.