The South Carolina Stingrays, proud ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and AHL’s Hershey Bears, have agreed to terms with forward Mark Cooper for the 2019-20 season. Cooper, who plays both center and on the wing, is coming off a season split between the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks and the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage.
The Toronto, Ontario native played 25 games with the Rampage in 2018-19 and scored seven points on two goals and five assists. While with Kansas City, he played racked up 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 30 regular season contests and added eight points in seven postseason appearances on an even four goals and four assists.
The Rays acquired Cooper’s rights Monday in a trade with the Mavericks, giving them the opportunity to negotiate with the 27-year-old.
“Mark will add some depth down the middle of the ice for us,” said Stingrays Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Steve Bergin. “He’s versatile and has played in the league for a couple years now. We played against him when he was in Rapid City and he was in Kansas City last year so adding those two things together with his versatility and experience, I think he brings a ton of value to our lineup. He’s a great leader off the ice, and you can never have too many leaders on your team. We had to give up some really good pieces to get him, but we got a really high end player in return.”
Cooper, who heard of the trade just days before he committed to the Rays, said he was excited to hear the news of the deal.
“I had a few friends from places I’ve played say only great things about Charleston and the Stingrays organization so I was extremely excited and when I got the call from Steve,” Cooper said. After that, it was just matter of when we could get pen to paper.”
In 2017-18, Cooper totaled 47 points in 68 games with the Mavericks. As a rookie in 2016-17, the forward scored 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 54 games with the Rapid City Rush and also played 10 games with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners.
“Having crossed paths with a bunch of guys in the league over the last three years, I’ve heard Charleston is a top-notch city,” said Cooper. The Stingrays have a great history having won three Kelly Cups and are always a contender so I was extremely excited when I found out I was going to be a Stingray.”
Cooper, who has played three professional seasons, has totaled 152 ECHL games with the Mavericks and Rush, accounting for 126 points on 52 goals and 74 assists. He has also played in 37 AHL games with the Rampage, Roadrunners and Chicago Wolves.
“He was really excited when we spoke,” Bergin said. “I think the longer you’re in the league, you start hearing about other teams and envisioning certain places you’d want to play. I think South Carolina is one of those teams that was at the top of his list. He’s put a strong emphasis on really wanting to win and that’s something that was really important to him this year. He wants to win a championship feels that we have a roster that can do it. It just seemed like a perfect fit for both sides.”
Before turning pro, the attacker suited up for 157 NCAA games with the Bowling Green State University Falcons from 2012-16, scoring 91 points on 45 goals and 46 assists.
The 27th season of Stingrays hockey begins in Orlando against the Solar Bears on October 12. The Stingrays will open their home schedule in North Charleston vs. Orlando the following week on Saturday, October 19.
Season tickets are on sale now! For more information or to purchase, contact the Stingrays by phone at 843-744-2248.
Single game tickets for all 2019-20 Stingrays home games are also on sale now via Ticketmaster and the North Charleston Coliseum Box Office.