As Mark Cooper skated off the ice, following a second straight spirited practice session at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, the Kansas City Mavericks reigning MVP groaned in mock agony.
“I have to get my legs back,” Cooper said, a comment that resulted in some odd looks by fans standing near the doors that lead to the locker room.
Cooper laughed, and qualified his comment, as he missed Monday’s opening skating session.
“I spent 16 hours in my car on Monday, I was so excited to see the boys, I drove straight from Hershey, Pennsylvania, to Independence, and it took 16 hours,” said Cooper, who was working out with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. “The workouts were good, but I am so excited to be back home with the Mavericks. Last year was a special year for me because I found a hockey home – I love it here. You have a classy, first-class organization, a great coaching staff and the best facility and fans in the ECHL.”
Cooper will be on the ice at 6:15 tonight at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena for the team’s preseason intrasquad game. The game is free, but fans are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items that will be donated to the Community Services League. Doors open at 4 p.m.
Cooper is excited to get the season underway – and excited about what he’s seen in camp this week.
“We were all disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs last year, but this year’s team has everything you’re looking for to make the playoffs – and to make a deep run in the playoffs,” Cooper said. “I know people have been talking about how good the team looks on paper, but I think we’re going to look pretty good on the ice, too.”
As Cooper talked about the season, coach John-Scott Dickson brushed by and quipped, “Super Dooper. Super Cooper. Coop deVille.”
Cooper chuckled at the comments.
“We all worked hard in the offseason and I think this is going to be a great year,” said Cooper, who led the Mavericks with 47 points (23 goals, 24 assists) last season. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team with this much depth.
“We’re going to be able to run five or six lines out at the scrimmage Wednesday and give John-Scott a lot of looks.”
HEAT SENDS MAVS THREE: The Mavericks received three players from their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, Tuesday.
Forward Jordan Ernst, defenseman Willie Raskob and goalie Nick Schneider will join the Mavericks this week.
Ernst, 21, was signed to a two-way AHL-ECHL deal by the Heat prior to being optioned to the Mavericks. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward completed his junior career with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting last season, finishing fifth on the club with 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists) in 68 games. He finished the regular season with a plus-6 rating.
Raskob, 23, comes to the Mavericks after signing a two-way deal with Stockton over the summer. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound defenseman posted impressive numbers with the Quad City Mallards last year, tallying 37 points (3 goals, 34 assists) in 69 games.
Schneider, 21, will begin his professional career with the Mavericks. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound goalie played for the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen last season, posting a 3.70 goals against average and .885 save percentage.
Following his season with the Hitmen, Schneider joined the Heat for a game – his 10th in the AHL.
“We have a lot of depth, a nice blend of young and veteran players and we’re all excited to see what happens this season,” Dickson said.