Shane Owen was hoping for a solid start in his first year as a goalie for the Missouri Mavericks.
But the CHL Goaltender of the Week said he could only dream about being part of a 6-0 team that will play host to the rival Wichita Thunder at 7:05 tonight at the Independence Events Center.
“I hoped we’d get off to a good start, but since I’m new to the CHL I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Owen, a rookie who is 4-0 with a 1.71 goals against average and .942 save percentage. “I had a good feeling about this team in camp.
“I knew they brought back a lot of veteran guys and they made all the newcomers feel right at home. I felt like I was part of the team the first week of camp. We’ve all bonded and really feel like a team. There’s a lot of chemistry on the ice and in the locker room.”
Owen has yet to allow more than two goals in a game and was in the net for last Friday’s home opener, a 6-2 victory over a then 5-0-1 Denver team before a standing-room-only crowd of 5,850 – the largest crowd in the five-year history of the franchise.
“I heard the fans here were amazing, and we all found out that was true last Friday,” Owen said. “When we played in St. Charles last week, I’d swear there were only 300 to 400 fans. We were joking around before the game and said that we have that many fans at our practices.”
As the season progresses, Owen said he is feeling more at home in Independence.
“I love the community, and the fans are amazing,” he said. “Everywhere we go, they want to talk hockey. They really love this team, and that makes us want to play hard for them. The energy we got from the fans last week was amazing.
“We’d played three games in four days – at St. Charles, Tulsa and at home – and we came out on the ice, saw the crowd and knew we had to win that game for them.”
Owen hopes to join a line of outstanding former Maverick goalies like Charlie Effinger, Gerry Festa, Robbie Nolan and Mike Clemente – each of whom led the team to postseason action.
“I’m playing for the present right now,” Owen said. “It’s too early to think about the future, but I love it here and hope to play an important role for the team this season. But a goalie is only as good as the defense in front of him, and our D has been so strong this season.
“We communicate well and guys are flying all over the ice to block shots and help make my job easy.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC