New Kansas City Mavericks goaltender Mason McDonald caught a brief glimpse of the thousand or so fans who were about to witness the team’s annual Black-Orange Game Wednesday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“They have that many people for a practice game?” said McDonald, who stood tall in the net for the Orange team in a 3-1 victory over the Black squad in the intrasquad contest that featured two 15-minute periods with a running clock and a final regulation period.
“I was impressed with 12 fans showed up for our practice the other morning,” added McDonald, the Calgary Flames’ former second-round draft pick who was assigned to the Mavericks earlier this week by the American Hockey League affiliate Stockton Heat. “I keep hearing about what great fans they have in Independence and I believe it. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like Oct. 28 when we open regular-season play against Tulsa.
“We’re all very excited about this season.”
The offensive performance of newcomer Mark Cooper drew the praise of coach John-Scott Dickson. Cooper beat veteran goalie Ty Rimmer glove side in the first period for a 1-0 lead. The former Rapid City Rush standout then showed good patience and vision in the second with a toe drag and cross-crease pass to Carson Dubchak, who deposited the puck into a wide-open goal to give the Orange team a 2-0 edge.
“When we signed Mark Cooper, we knew we were getting a proven goal scorer and a leader – and it didn’t take long for him to show those qualities tonight,” said Dickson, who sat high above the ice to watch the scrimmage with president and general manager Brent Thiessen. “Cooper was a great player with Rapid City and we’re expecting big things from him this season.”
Cooper said he heard great things about the Mavericks from former Kansas City forward Lindsay Sparks, who played for the Rush last season.
“Everything Lindsay and everyone else I talked to about the Mavericks really made it an easy decision to sign with the team,” Cooper said. “I was impressed with Coach (Dickson) and Brent and we have a lot of talent on this team.
“Every place I’ve been I’ve worn a letter or an assistant’s letter and I want to be a leader on this team, both in the locker room and on the ice. If we’re ahead by a goal late in a game, I want to be on the ice to preserve that lead. If we’re down by a goal, I want to put the puck in the back of the net to tie the game and give us a chance for a victory.”
Jared VanWormer was the lone man to beat McDonald on the night, scoring with eight minutes remaining in the third period to make it 2-1, but Justin Breton responded shortly after to regain the decisive two-goal edge for the Orange.
“For the most part, I liked what I saw tonight,” Dickson said as 24 players dressed for the game, a total must be trimmed to 22 before the start of the season on Oct. 13 at Tulsa. “I thought we started out slowly, but really picked up the tempo. We didn’t do that until about three-fourths of the way through last season.”
The Mavericks will pack their gear and head to Allen for a pair of exhibition games at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. The Mavericks will kick off their home slate at 7:05 p.m. Oct. 28 against the Wichita Thunder.
TRYOUT AGREEMENT: The Mavericks added forward J.T. Barnett to camp on a tryout agreement Wednesday.
Barnett, 25, played overseas last season, including four games in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, one game with CSKA Moscow and three with Khabarovsk Amur. He spent the majority of the year in Russia’s VHL with Zvezda Chekhov, where he totaled 10 points in 24 games with a plus-3 rating.
Prior to going overseas, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward spent three seasons the the ECHL. His last ECHL season was 2015-16 with the Atlanta Gladiators, where he posted 13 points and finished the year with a plus-2 rating in 35 games played.
The Scottsdale, Arizona native played 62 games for the Stockton Thunder the previous season, setting career highs of nine goals, 16 assists, 25 points and 31 penalty minutes. He spent his rookie season split between the Ontario Reign and Orlando Solar Bears.