The Kansas City Mavericks hit the road today to visit the Wichita Thunder at 7 p.m., then hop on the team bus and head back to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, where they will play host to the Thunder at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We were home last weekend,” coach John-Scott Dickson said, referring to the team’s first Alumni Weekend, in which Mavericks icon Sebastien Thinel became the first player to have his number (43) retired, “but it’s a quick bus ride to Wichita, and then we come right back home to play them again. We’ve been playing a lot of the same teams quite a bit this season, but that’s just how the ECHL scheduling goes.”

Dickson said his team got some needed work done being able to stay home.

“It’s been a good week of practice, with a tough, really hard practice Wednesday and another good one (Thursday) – but it wasn’t quite as long or intense,” he said. “When you’re home for a week, and not taking eight- to 12-hour bus rides, you can get a lot done at practice and I feel like this has been one of the best practice weeks we have had this season.”

Dickson received some good news this week when forward and assistant captain Jared VanWormer returned to the Mavericks after a PTO tryout with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals.

VanWormer had one assist in four games with the Admirals. He has scored 29 points on 13 goals and 16 assists in 29 games with the Mavericks this season.

Tha Mavericks, though, lost another forward and assistant captain, Mark Cooper, who has been loaned to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.

Cooper has played in 14 games for Kansas City this season, scoring eight goals and adding 11 assists for 19 points.

“We’re here to help these guys reach the next level, and we’re happy for Worms and Coop,” Dickson said. “But we’re happy to have Worms back. He’s a tough, gritty player who is not afraid to block shots and he can score around the net.

“We thought Coop was going to be gone for just one game, but the Rampage like him and are taking him to Manitoba this weekend. Good for him.

“While we wish Coop was here, it’s a great recruiting tool for this team when our players go up to the AHL to prove what they can do at the next level.”

The Mavericks (19-15-1-1), now in fourth place in the ECHL's Mountain Division, enter the weekend set with 40 points, two ahead of fifth-plac Wichita (15-17-5-3).

ALL-STAR CHALLENGE: VanWormer has been selected to participate in the league’s Hardest Shot competition during ECHL All-Star Weekend, Jan. 21 in Toledo, Ohio. The ECHL All-Star Classic will air on NHL Network (Comcast channel 276) at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, from the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.

VanWormer will be going up against Greenville’s Johno May (Eastern Conference), and Toledo’s Matt Register and A.J. Jenks.