It took Andrew Courtney a half dozen games before the Missouri Mavericks' 2011 All-Star Game representative found his groove.

It took Andrew Courtney a half dozen games before the Missouri Mavericks' 2011 All-Star Game representative found his groove.

But now he's back on track and eager to help the Mavericks climb out of the Central Hockey League cellar.

“It took Courts six games to find the back of the net,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said, “but he's beginning to look more and more like our all-star representative from last season. We're still experimenting with different lines, but we're thrilled to have Courts back, and we know he's going to be a big part of our success this season.”

The Mavericks are tied with Tulsa (14 points) for last place in the CHL and are just a point out of eighth place, which is occupied by the Quad City Mallards, the team that pays the Mavericks a visit at 7:05 p.m. tonight at the Independence Events Center.

Courtney began this season in the East Coast Hockey League, but when that experience didn't work out, he was welcomed back to the Mavericks family with open arms.

“I'm getting closer and closer to feeling comfortable out on the ice,” said Courtney, who had a month layoff before signing with the Mavericks early in November. “I'm taking it practice by practice and game by game – but it just feels so good to be back with the Mavericks.

“This is home; this is where I'm supposed to be.”

He could play a huge role in the team's success as forwards Ryan Jardine, Colt King, Matt Krug, Kellan Tochkin and Matt McCready are all on the injured reserve list.

“There is a little extra weight on our shoulders,” the second-year forward said, “but we can handle that. The guys who are healthy in the dressing room know what's expected and we're ready to go out and take care of business (tonight).”

The Mavericks are 6-7-2 and are on a modest two-game winning streak. But they have not won two in a row at home, and a victory over Quad City could help them reach that goal.

“Everything about this team is first rate from the facility, the front office the coaches and our fans,” Courtney said. “We want to win at home Friday night and give our fans something to cheer about.

“We struggled early in the season, but we have the back-to-back wins where we scored some goals and got great goaltending. We're a confident team right now – you can just see the confidence in the locker room and on the ice at practice.

“We struggled early in the season last year and found the right team chemistry and almost made it to the championship series. We can't wait for Friday night to get back on the ice and get another win.”

Courtney will be teamed on the same line with Brian Bicek and newcomer Josh “Pudge” Turnbull Friday night.

“I've been on some different lines, and to me, it doesn't really matter who I'm out there with,” he said. “We are playing pretty well right now, playing with a lot of confidence. All our lines are experienced and we have some chemistry going for us.

“When you're away from the game for a while, you realize just how special it was – especially playing with the Mavericks.”

Hillman can relate to that comment.

“We knew Courts was out there, and we wanted to bring him back,” Hillman said. “He just has a knack for scoring big goals, and we can't wait until he's back 100 percent and playing the way he did last season.”

MAVS SIGN DEFENSEMAN: The Mavericks signed defenseman Kyle Atkins Thursday afternoon, placed Tochkin on 14-day injured reserve and moved forward Trevor Kell from 14-day IR to the 30-day IR.

“We have been hit with a lot of injuries in the early part of this season,” Hillman said. “We are working very hard to keep our roster full in hopes of avoiding additional injuries, and we are very pleased with the way our newest players have stepped in and fought for a permanent position with this team.”

Atkins, 23, is in his rookie season and began the season in the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Pensacola Ice Flyers.

“Kyle is a player that we watched closely last season as he was completing a very strong (college) career at Holy Cross,” Hillman added. “He showed all the signs that he would be a strong candidate with the skills, habits and work ethic to succeed in pro hockey. We are excited to add him to our roster.”

Atkins, a 6-foot-3, 204-pound defenseman, had four assists and seven penalty minutes in 12 games with Pensacola this year. He totaled 10 goals, 29 assists and 60 penalty minutes in 113 games over four seasons with Holy Cross.