NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — 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 2020-21 season.
Cooper, 28, returns for his second year with the Stingrays after posting 46 points in 55 ECHL games last season on 17 goals and 29 assists. His goal total was third-most on the team while his assist and point totals were fifth-best among SC skaters.
“We’re extremely excited to have Mark back in a Stingrays jersey”, said Head Coach Ryan Blair. “He was an extremely big piece of our group last year and we look forward to his continued success as a Stingray this coming year. Mark can play in all situations, provides great leadership and is a steady competitor.”
“It’s been a weird summer to say the least but once I started seeing guys sign and talking to guys throughout the summer, I decided to try and finish what we started last year,” Cooper said. “It was a disappointing end to what could have been a very special season. This is going to be a different year, but we have a lot of the same guys back so hopefully we can get back to where we left off and try and win a Kelly Cup.”
In addition to his time with South Carolina last season, Cooper also earned a call-up opportunity with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers under former Stingrays head coach Ryan Warsofsky. In eight games, Cooper posted four points with two goals and two assists.
“Coach Warsofsky up in Charlotte gave me a great opportunity and I got to showcase that I could play at the next level,” said Cooper. “It was a great learning experience for sure and hopefully I can bring that confidence and what I learned back to South Carolina this year.”
Prior to joining the Rays, Cooper, a native of Toronto, Ontario, spent his 2018-19 campaign with both the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks. While appearing in 25 games with the Rampage, Cooper scored seven points on two goals and five assists. In Kansas City, the attacker racked up 37 points in 30 regular season contests with 13 goals and 24 assists before adding eight points in seven postseason appearances on an even four goals and four assists.
In 2017-18, Cooper totaled 47 points in 68 games with Kansas City. As a rookie in 2016-17, the forward scored 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 54 games with the Rapid City Rush and suited up in 10 games for the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners.
Cooper, who has played four professional seasons, has totaled 207 ECHL games and scored 172 points on 69 goals and 103 assists. He has also played in 45 career AHL games with the Checkers, Rampage, Roadrunners and Chicago Wolves, scoring 13 points with four goals and nine assists.
Before turning pro, the attacker suited up for 157 NCAA games with the Bowling Green State Falcons from 2012-16, scoring 91 points on 45 games and 46 assists.
“I just can’t wait to get things going for Stingrays fans who I know are probably dying to see us play,” Cooper said. “Everyone knows that Charleston is an unbelievable city. With the way the organization is run from top to bottom, it was quite an easy decision to come back, and I’m excited to get to work and have some fun this year.”