The ice is down at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena, the new video boards have been installed and more than 1,000 fans visited the home of the Kansas City Mavericks for the 11th annual Fan Fest Saturday morning and afternoon.

“When you talk about the ice, our fans and the additions to the arena it can only mean one thing – hockey is right around the corner,” Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson. “On paper, this looks like one of our best teams – a lot of talent, more depth than we’ve had in a long time and a nice blend of veterans and newcomers.

“But we all know the game is played on ice, so we’re excited to get camp started.”

That, too, is right around the corner as the Mavericks open at Tulsa on Friday, Oct. 11 and return to SEC Arena for the home opener against the Indy Fuel at 7 p.m. the next night, Oct. 12, less than a month away.

“Hey, you know me, I’m ready to hit the ice tonight,” captain Rocco Carzo said as he signed autographs for fans following a Q&A session that included Dickson and a newcomer, forward Michael Parks, who makes his offseason home in St. Louis.

“Our fans are the greatest. Just look at how many of them came today,” Carzo added. “I’ve said this every year I’ve been here, but our only goal this season is the ultimate goal, and that’s giving our fans a championship.”

Team president and general manager Brent Thiessen, who has been leading the team since the first day back in 2009, agreed with his captain.

“We’ve done so many great things over the past 10 years, but we’ve never been able to celebrate the ultimate victory, and that’s bringing a championship to our fans,” Thiessen said. “They have been with us since we started – and believe me, back when we came to Independence, there a lot of people who thought we didn’t know what we were doing.

“But we had a vision, and the support we’ve received from our fans has been amazing. I know that everyone here today shares my passion for hockey and our Mavericks. We’re all ready to go.

“We have worked hard in the offseason to put together a team that can bring a championship to this great town and as I look out and see so many familiar faces, I just can’t imagine how excited they would be to celebrate a championship with us.”

Original season ticket holder Frank Spevak – who is there when the team bus leaves the SEC Arena for every road trip and is there to greet it when it returns – said it didn’t take Fan Fest to get him thinking about hockey.

“For me, it’s a year-round thing,” Spevak said. “I love this team.”

So do Ron and Molly Clemons, who share Spevak’s passion for the Mavericks.

“I just want the season to start,” Ron Clemons said, grinning, “I can’t wait. And I am so happy we get to watch T.J. Eick play again this season.”

Added his wife Molly: “I love the new video boards and I love to come and hear with the players and everyone has to say. We’re ready for the season to start.”