The gorilla suit hanging in the Missouri Mavericks locker room belonged to Kyle Hood.
“He scared the (heck) out some of us when we walked in this morning,” rookie defender Tyler Currier said Halloween morning. “It was really pretty funny – and scary.”
The mood was lighthearted at the Thursday morning practice. Just 12 hours earlier, the Mavericks used a five-goal second period to claim a 6-1 victory over the cross-state rival St. Charles Chill.
This morning, the Mavericks board the team bus for today’s 7:35 p.m. contest against a Tulsa team that coach Scott Hillman says is much better than its 0-3-2 record might indicate.
“They lost three one-point games to (defending Central Hockey League champion) Allen, so you know they're going to be fired up at home looking for their first win,” Hillman said.
“I really liked what I saw from the boys in St. Charles. We're missing two key components of our team, and everyone stepped their game to get that win.”
Mavericks alternate captains Colt King and Dave Pszenyczny have now served one game of their three-game suspensions following their involvement in a fight-plagued 4-1 win at Arizona last Saturday.
“Losing Kinger and Chezy affects the team, absolutely,” said Hood, who scored his first goal of the season against St. Charles. “But everyone raised their level of play. Look at the final score – we score six goals and six different guys score those goals.
“That's huge. We're not counting on Sebbie (captain Sebastian Thinel) to get it all done offensively. Everyone is contributing.”
John-Scott Dickson scored the first goal in the second period. Five minutes later Evan Vossen scored his first goal of the season to give Missouri a lead it never relinquished.
Eric Castonguay then scored his first goal as a Maverick ,and Andrew Courtney and Hood added goals to give goalie Shane Owen a 5-1 lead and some breathing room. Newcomer Obi Aduba scored the final goal.
“The win Wednesday was awesome,” Thinel said. “We are the deepest team I've been on here in Missouri. We're playing like a team, even though it is early in the season. We're excited about going to Tulsa then coming home Saturday for the home opener (at 7:05 p.m. against the undefeated Denver Cutthroats).”
Rookie Rob Kleebaum had a breakout game Wednesday, finishing with three assists.
“Kleebaum had a huge night with three assists,” the coach said. “That's how you get off to a 4-0 start with every game on the road. That's the type of performance we're going to need to get a win at Tulsa Friday.”
Castonguay said he believes the team's confidence has grown with each game, and each win.
“We have a lot of veterans on the team like Sebbie, Chezy and Kinger – and they are great teammates, guys who make everyone welcome,” Castonguay said. “And that's important for the veteran new guys and the rookies.
“I've never been on a team that has been this close this early in the season. That's a big reason we're undefeated, and we want to bring that undefeated record home with us from Tulsa.”
Mike Fisher, the Mavericks director of ticket operations, said there are less than 200 tickets remaining for the opener.
“Right now, there are 195 tickets left for the opener,” Fisher said late Thursday afternoon. “We expect the game to be a total sellout by Friday or early Saturday.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC