For 59 minutes and 11 seconds, the crowd inside the Independence Events Center was buzzing about the Missouri Mavericks’ dominating performance over the Arizona Sundogs.
Shane Owen was putting on a show in the net, reigning CHL scoring leader and MVP Sebastien Thinel had four assists and linemate Eric Castonguay had two goals in the 5-1 rout.
With the fans chanting “We Want Burgers” – as the Mavericks give out vouchers for free hamburgers on six-goal nights – Missouri forward Colt King dropped gloves with Sundogs forward Garrett Clarke with just 49 seconds left in the game.
With one devastating punch, King sent Clarke to the ice as trainers from both teams and the doctor on call rushed to his aid.
Clarke – who had been called for instigating, a fighting major and fighting/instigator misconduct in the second period – was strapped to a backboard and taken off the ice on a gurney.
“Clarke slashed Kinger's stick out of his hands,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “If you do that to a fighter, you better expect a fight. Kinger dropped his gloves and threw a punch – but it ended with a bad result.
“You never want to see someone taken off the ice on a stretcher. But he challenged Kinger, and Kinger didn't back away. Kinger will never back away.”
King was given an attempt to injure/match and match penalty/major. Because the one-punch fight was away from the action on the ice, it was not immediately known if there was tape of the fight.
Thinel saw the incident the same way as his coach.
“Kinger is not going to back down from anyone,” Thinel said. “But you hate to see a guy lay on the ice and go off on a stretcher. No one wants that to happen.”
The Sundogs scored first, but the Mavericks put the next five goals on the scoreboard as John-Scott Dickson evened the score at 1-all at 5:55 of the second period.
Castonguay and Thinel then put on a clinic as Castronguay scored at 17:54 and 19:32 to give Missouri a 3-1 lead. Both goals came off Thinel assists.
Rookie Anders Franzon and Rob Kleebaum wrapped up the big offensive night for the Mavericks by scoring in the third period.
“This is how we were playing during our eight-game winning streak,” Thinel said. “Shane didn't have to make many stops, but he made some big, big stops – especially early in the game. And it's fun to be a part of the offense.
“Castonguay and the boys did a great job tonight putting the puck in the back of the net.”
Missouri's Matt Stephenson, Colten Hayes and Henrik Odegaard threw their bodies in front of shots during the game to make life a bit easier for Owen, who improved to 12-3 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.43.
“The defense came up big tonight and the offense put some points on the scoreboard,” said Owen, who stopped 26 of 27 shots. “After we got going in the second period (offensively) it felt like the first of the season where we were dominating our opponents.
“No one likes to see a game end like this one did (with the injury), but we played a complete game. I'm happy we were able to play like this in front our fans.”
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC