A familiar face stood tall in the net at the Kansas City Mavericks’ first day of practice as Nick Schneider returned to the ECHL team after spending some time in Independence last season.
The lanky 6-foot-2 goalie appeared in 21 games last year and finished with a 7-11 mark and 3.66 goals against average as he played behind starter Mason McDonald, who is now on the roster of the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles.
Mavericks coach John-Scott Dickson spent some time last week with the team’s AHL affiliate Stockton and liked what he saw from Schneider.
“We saw Nick here last year and he did a great job, and it looks like he’s taken his game to the next level from what I saw in Stockton last week,” Dickson said Monday morning, following the spirited hour and a half session at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“All offseason I’ve been asked, ‘Who’s going to be your goalie? Who’s going to be in the net for the Mavericks?’ And now, we can give them an answer.”
Schneider spent two weeks with the team’s NHL affiliate Calgary, and was then assigned to Stockton, where he spent a week and a half.
“Stockton’s coaches were very honest with me,” Schneider said. “They told me, ‘You can go to Kansas City and be all pissy or you can go down there and play your way back to the AHL,’ and that’s what I plan to do.
“My goal is to make it to Stockton and hopefully Calgary, but if I am going to play in the ECHL I am thrilled to be in Kansas City. I have so much respect for John-Scott and this organization and I have a good relationship with Kohl.”
He was referring to the Mavericks’ new assistant coach Kohl Schultz, who was with Stockton last season.
Schultz also knows about the team’s second goalie, rookie Hayden Hawkey, who is on a tryout basis with the Mavericks.
“I know what Nick can do from watching him last year in Stockton,” Schultz said, “and I saw Hayden play at Providence while I was at Maine. We have two very good goalies in camp, and all that’s going to do is make us a much better team once the season starts.”
Schneider says he already feels like a part of the team, even though Monday was the first practice session.
“Last year, it was all so new, it took me a while to settle in,” Schneider said. “But today, I was so comfortable out there. I knew so many of the guys from last year that it didn’t feel like my first practice.
“I loved the pace of today’s practice. We were really getting after it out there. It was a lot of fun. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”