The Allen Americans claimed a 3-0 victory over the Missouri Mavericks Saturday night at the Independence Events Center, but the real winners were hundreds of local youngsters who will receive a special gift thanks to the generosity of Maverick fans.
For the past four seasons, fans have tossed teddy bears and stuffed animals on the ice after the Mavericks’ first goal on a specially designated night during the holidays.
But this fifth-season Teddy Bear Toss was a bit different since the Mavericks failed to score.
“Of all the nights not to score a goal,” Mavericks captain Sebastien Thinel said, shaking his head. “Sorry fans.”
No problem, as the Mavericks announced late in the third period that fans could toss their stuffed animals on the ice during the final media timeout. With that cue, more than 1,500 stuffed animals covered the ice at the Events Center.
Mavericks players, staff and even some of the Allen Americans collected the stuffed toys and placed them in three large containers.
“I know there were a lot of teddy bears out on the ice Saturday,” Hillman said. “You know, you hate to lose. You especially hate to lose at home in front of so many great fans. But you see something like the Teddy Bear Toss, and you realize there’s something more than wins and losses.
“Our fans had an impact on the lives of hundreds of kids they’ll never meet, but they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they made a difference in someone’s lives over the holiday season.”
The man responsible for the Mavericks goose egg Saturday was Allen goaltender Bryan Pitton, who stopped all of the Mavericks’ 40 shots.
“We didn’t just take 40 shots, we took a lot of quality shots – high-percentage shots – and he stopped every one of them,” Hillman said after his team outshot the Americans 40-25. “Sometimes, you have to tip your hat to your opponent, and that’s what we had to do (Saturday).
“We have a week to work on some things before St. Charles comes to town (at 7:05 p.m.) Friday. We had a nice training session off the ice (Monday) morning, and the boys are ready to hit the ice (for practice) tomorrow.”
After scoring five goals Friday in Allen, the Mavericks couldn’t muster one Saturday and failed to convert on all five power plays. Despite the loss the Mavericks (15-6-1) remain in second place with 31 points behind Rapid City (18-3-0, 36).
Greger Hanson scored the only goal Allen needed just 2:53 into the first period. Jonathan Lessard and Alex Lavoie then each assisted on each other’s goals at the 13:23 and 15:03 marks in the third period for the Americans (13-8-2, 28 points, tied for fourth).