Efficiency played the biggest role in the Missouri Mavericks’ 5-1 victory over Rapid City Saturday night at the Independence Events Center.
The Mavericks, who were suffering through a three-game home losing streak, took a quick 1-0 lead just 1:26 into the first period on an Eric Castonguay goal and followed with a power-play goal by Andrew Courtney at 5:03 and a Trevor Kell even-strength goal at 5:25 to take a 3-0 lead on their first three shots of the game.
“I don't ever recall that happening – here or anywhere I've played or coached,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said.
“Today at 2 p.m. we found out that Matty (defenseman Matt Stephenson) was suspended tonight for a hit from Friday night's game, so once again, we're down a defenseman – and the boys always seem to respond to a challenge.
“We'd lost three in a row, all at home, and desperately needed a win tonight. We went out and took it to Rapid City early, and Shane (Owen) was huge in the net.”
While the Mavericks finished the night with just 15 shots on goal against Keaton Hartigan and league-leading goalie Tim Boron (who allowed two goals after replacing Hartigan following Kell's goal), Owen stopped 24 of 25 shots to end his personal three-game losing skid.
“I sat down with Shane this morning and had a little chat, and the message I got from him was, 'Full steam ahead.' He's a pro,” Hillman said. “He knows there are streaks like this, and he was so focused and so excited about being in the net tonight.”
Forward Sebastien Thinel, who also had two assists, and forward Evan Vossen both played on the blue line and the defense rose to the occasion time and time again, blanking the Rush on three power-play opportunities.
“I can't say enough about Voss and Sebbie,” Owen said. “Sebbie's diving on the ice blocking shots, and Voss looks like he's played D all his career. Tonight was a test for me and I passed it. We had to win this game, and the boys were there for me all night and I wanted to be there for them too.”
John-Scott Dickson gave Missouri a 4-0 lead in the second period before the Rush scored their lone goal of the night, then Castonguay fed Courtney from behind the net and Courtney blasted the puck past Boron for the game's final goal.
The Rush (23-9-0) lead the CHL with 46 points while Allen (21-10-3), which has played two more games than the Mavericks, vaulted past Missouri into second place with 45 points. Missouri (21-10-1) has 43 points, and Denver (18-10-6) is in fourth with 42 points.
“It was so important to go out and get that early lead,” said Castonguay, who scored his 15th goal of the season. “We changed some things up and I don't think Rapid City knew what to expect.
“Scott did a great job getting us prepared for this game, and we knew we had to find a way to win, even without Matt Stephenson. We got a lot of energy from the crowd and once we had that 1-0 lead, we felt like the game was going to go our way – and it did.”
The Mavericks play Friday at Tulsa then return to the Events Center Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. game against the Wichita Thunder. Tickets in all price ranges are available.