Brianna Bauer was at the BOK Center in Tulsa Wednesday night when the Kansas City Mavericks lost Game 7 of the 2019 Kelly Cup Playoffs 6-2 to the top-seeded Oilers.
The six-year Mavericks season ticket holder was at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Thursday night for the annual End of Season goodbye party, where fans could meet the team, get autographs and photographs and tell their favorite players goodbye.
“I was in Tulsa for that emotional seventh game loss,” Bauer said, “and now, less than 24 hours later, here I am saying goodbye to all the guys. None of us want the season to come to an end, but it has come to an end and I want to thank the Mavericks for giving the fans this opportunity to say goodbye and to let all our players know how much they mean to us.”
The feeling was mutual.
“A night like this – although no one is ready for the season to come to an end – is important to us, too,” captain Rocco Carzo said. “We want the fans to know that they are as important to us, as we are to them.”
Goalie Mason McDonald, who enjoyed one of the best seasons in goal in team history, backed his teammate’s statement.
“We come into this arena, and hear our fans and we get energized and excited,” said McDonald, who started all seven games of the playoffs. “On Friday and Saturday nights at home, when you look in the stands and can’t find an empty seat you know how much our team means to our fans and this community.
“And that gets us excited. Tonight is so bittersweet, because we wanted to have this event after we gave our fans a championship. It didn’t happen this year, but that is the only goal we’ve talked about today – winning a championship and rewarding the best fans in the ECHL.”
Coach John-Scott Dickson, who led the Mavericks back to the playoffs after a two-year stretch in which they did not reach the postseason, and president and general manager Brent Thiessen joined the players as fans took photos, got autorgaphs and bid on game-used jerseys and other memorabilia from this past season.
“We were just talking about how this is the hardest day of the season for all of us,” said Thiessen, who has guided the team from the front office since the first season back in 2009, “but it’s an important night, too.
“It’s important for our players and important for our fans. It’s a celebration of sorts because we had a good season, but it ended way too soon for all of us.
“But, we can all smile about the fact that we returned to the playoffs and we put together a team that really bonded this year, played as a team and cared as much about our fans as any team we have ever put on the ice.
“It ended too soon – but, it is absolutely better than this night the past two years when we didn’t make the playoffs. We saw a lot more smiles this year than we saw the past two.”
Dickson, who held exit interviews with every player today, left those sessions excited about the future.
“To a man, every player on this team said that they hope to move up to the AHL (American Hockey League) or even the NHL, but that if they play in the ECHL this is the place they want to me,” Dickson said.
“Our No. 1 job and responsibility is to help our guys make that next step, and it’s hard sometimes. It’s hard for us, when we lose great players like Worms (Jared VanWormer) and Coop (Mark Cooper), who spent a lot of time this season in the AHL.
“But that’s why we’re here – to develop young players. And I think that we have had so many players have a chance to play in the AHL that, that will attract a lot of guys to our team. And our players are our best recruiters.
“When a player tells someone how much they enjoy playing here, that is going to make it that much more appealing for someone to join our team, and we want to make next year bigger and better than this year.”