INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - The Kansas City Mavericks added two forwards to the 2017-18 roster on Wednesday with the announced signings of Mark Cooper and Zach Stepan.
"Mark and Zach are both talented forwards who are dangerous with the puck in the offensive zone and responsible on our end of the ice," said Mavericks general manager Brent Thiessen. "We're excited to welcome them to Kansas City and to see what they bring to the Mavericks."
Cooper, 25, joins Kansas City after spending his first full professional season with Rapid City in 2016-17. With the Rush, Cooper posted 42 points (16G+26A), second-most on the team. He also skated with the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL for 10 games, claiming two assists.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound forward broke into professional hockey with two games with the Chicago Wolves in 2015-16 after completing his collegiate career at Bowling Green State. Cooper served as an alternate captain with the Falcons for his senior season, a year in which he was named to the All-WCHA Third Team as well as earning his third Academic All-WCHA recognition.
The Toronto, Ontario native was Bowling Green's leading goal scorer (16) and finished as the team's top point-getter (32) in his senior season. He completed his collegiate career as Bowling Green's active scoring leader with 91 career points.
Prior to his collegiate career, the right-hand-shooting forward played two seasons for the St. Michael's Buzzers of the OJHL, where he recorded 111 points (49G+62A) in 95 games.
"I'm thrilled to join Kansas City," said Cooper. "I've heard nothing but great things from previous players and from players around the league. It's a team that has great support around the community and great fans. I'm excited for what's in store this season."
"Mark is a big-body player who can dominate down low," said Mavericks head coach John-Scott Dickson. "He goes to the net to score and is highly motivated to prove he can take the next step to the AHL. I’m very excited about adding Mark to our team."
Stepan, 23, joins the Mavericks after completing his collegiate career with Minnesota State in the 2016-17 season. A fourth round draft pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2012 NHL Draft, Stepan tallied 59 points (24G+35A) in 137 collegiate games.
The Hastings, Michigan, native was a four-year letterwinner with MSU and was a two-time honoree on the WCHA All-Academic Team. The left-hand-shooting forward helped the MSU Mavericks to two conference regular season titles and two conference tournament championships. For his NCAA career, Stepan finished a plus-25.
Prior to his collegiate career, the 6-foot, 175-pound forward skated for the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks in the 2012-13 season, where he posted 78 points (32G+46A), the league's third-best total, in 56 games. He was a plus-25 in his lone season in the USHL. Stepan claims international experience as well, having represented Team USA on multiple occasions, winning tournaments on both the U-17 and U-19 teams.
Stepan played high school hockey for the storied Shattuck-St. Mary's program in Faribault, Minnesota, where he helped the team win national championships in 2011 and 2012. He is the cousin of Arizona Coyotes center and former New York Rangers alternate captain Derek Stepan.
"Kansas City's offensive style of play intrigued me right off the bat, and the more I talked to them the more the fit just felt right," said Zach Stepan. "I think the biggest thing I'm excited for is going to a new city and starting the next chapter of my hockey career, and to me it sounds like Kansas City is a great place to do it."
"Very excited to add Zach to our team," said Dickson. "He comes from a college program that emphasizes work ethic and playing a two-way game. Zach has offensive abilities to contribute while remaining strong in the defensive end. He’s hungry to prove himself and we’re all looking forward to seeing him in October."
The Mavericks open their season on Friday, Oct. 13 at Tulsa at 7:05 p.m. The home opener will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:05 p.m. against Wichita. Season tickets remain on sale.
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