They are putting the ice in Silverstein Eye Centers Arena this week and that can only mean one thing – the return of Kansas City Mavericks hockey.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the ECHL team will host Fan Fest at SEC Arena, and president and general manager Brent Thiessen can’t wait for season No. 11.

“When they put the ice down, you really get excited and start thinking about the upcoming season,” said Thiessen, who has spent the offseason working with coach John-Scott Dickson to build a team they hope will reach the playoffs for a second year in a row.

“On paper, this team looks like it will be very competitive, but we all know the game is played on ice, so we’re excited to see what happens in our 11th season.

“We made some big strides last season, returning to the playoffs, and we have so many key players back from last year, which we believe is very exciting. I think we’re going to have as much depth and talent as any of our recent teams.”

Fan Fest is free and will feature the opportunity for fans to visit with the staff and many of the Mavericks players.

“We have the new video board, the new lighting, the new, expanded west end loge – there are a lot of things that the fans will be able to see Saturday,” Thiessen added.

Thiessen also announced Wednesday that the team has partnered with KMBC/KCWE to broadcast nine games this season.

“We are excited to have found a new home for our televised games this season,” Thiessen said. “We are thrilled to be bringing select Mavericks games live into homes throughout the Kansas City region. We couldn’t be happier with this new partnership.”

Nine Mavericks home games will be broadcast locally on KCWE, channel 29 (Comcast Cable channel 2, 802 HD). Joel Goldberg will return as the play-by-play announcer. Royals Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews, an avid hockey fan, will join Goldberg as color commentator for three games as well.

“KCWE is proud to be partnering with the Kansas City Mavericks,” KCWE and KMBC president and general manager Sarah Smith said in a press release. “Hockey is a great game and the Mavericks are a great team. We hope our telecasts will expand The Mavericks reach and highlight how much they do for our community.”

Thiessen believes the televised games expand the Mavericks’ brand beyond Eastern Jackson County.

“We talked to so many fans last year and asked why they came to a game and they said because they saw the Mavericks on television,” Thiessen said. “I really think TV helps amplify what we are going and brings in a new group of fans who might not be aware of what we have to offer.”