The Missouri Mavericks showed what they were made of this past week, winning two of three games in Rapid City, despite being two skaters down the first game and one skater down the second.
Following Thursday and Friday night wins over the Rush, the Mavericks dropped Saturday's finale 7-4 with goalie Erno Suomalainen making his professional debut. He stopped 35 of 41 shots, with the final Rush goal going into an empty net.
“When we look at the three-game series, we look at the entire weekend, not just our last game,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said Monday morning following a brief skate for a few members of the team. “We went into Rapid City trailing by five points. We won the first two games, and were playing for first place Saturday night, but you could tell the boys were tired. They were more energized – somehow – than the Rush on Thursday following a 12-hour bus ride, and came out and played with a tremendous amount of energy on Friday, but it all took its toll Saturday.”
Hillman said being shorthanded caught up with his team too.
“They skated hard, but just didn't have enough left in the tank to win all three games,” he said. “We were two skaters down Thursday, one skater down Friday (after Trevor Kell, who had been ill, flew to join his teammates) and we had Tyler Currier playing much more than we would have liked in his return to the team (following two lower body injuries).
“But we're back home and have a big game Tuesday night against a Tulsa team that is one of the hottest teams in the CHL right now.”
The Mavericks are ready for their New Year's Eve matchup with the Oilers at 7:05 tonight at the Independence Events Center. Missouri (19-7-1) enter in second place in the CHL with 39 points, three behind Rapid City. The Oilers (16-14-2) are tied for third at 34 points.
Andrew Courtney opened Saturday night's game with a goal in the first five minutes, but the Rush roared back to take a 2-1 first-period lead.
Evan Vossen scored a second-period goal to cut Rapid City’s lead to 3-2, but the Rush scored three unanswered goals in a span of just more than two minutes in the third period to take control.
Kell scored just 13 seconds after the Rush’s final goal in that span and Mike Ramsay added a late goal, but that’s as close as the Mavericks could get before Rapid City’s Scott Wray sealed it with the empty-netter.
Sebastien Thinel continued his point streak with seven assists in the last five games for the Mavs, and Ramsay has added to his goal streak, scoring five times in the last four games.
The Mavericks invite fans to join them tonight for a special Skate with the Team event following the game. Fans can sign-up at the promotions table behind section 109.
MAVS GOALIE HONORED AGAIN: The Central Hockey League announced Monday that Mavericks goaltender Shane Owen has been named the Oakley CHL Goaltender of the Week for the period ending Dec. 29.
Owen, who won last week, has now won the weekly honor four times on the season and in both cases during back-to-back weeks.
Owen won both of his starts in Rapid City in the battle between the two top teams in the CHL. The Shanty Bay, Ontario, native made 21 saves in Thursday’s 4-2 win and then followed that the next night with 24 saves in a 4-3 win.
On the season, Owen is second in the league with a 2.37 goals-against average and is second with 16 wins (16-4-0). His .922 save percentage is third in the CHL.