ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Shane Owen made the four-hour bus trip across the state thinking he was going to get the night off against the last-place St. Charles Chill.
That did not turn out to be the case, as starting goaltender Erno Suomalainen left the game with an injury with 56 seconds left in the first period and the Mavericks holding onto a 2-0 lead in what turned out to be a 4-1 victory.
Owen entered the game, stopped 25 of 26 shots and made sure his backup claimed his second win of the season.
“Erno is fine,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said by phone after his team used four goals by four different players to claim the win over the Chill before a crowd of 1,288 at The Family Arena. “He received an upper-body injury and will be examined in Independence tomorrow. Shane came in and did a great job. It was our full intent to rest him tonight and give Erno the start, and they both played well.
“As it turns out, this is a big win and two very big points.”
That's because Rapid City, who is tied with Allen for first place in the CHL, lost 5-1 earlier in the day at Arizona.
“We all knew Rapid City had lost, and that makes the points even bigger,” Hillman said. “The boys are playing some of their best hockey of the season, and now we have to come home and take care of business this weekend.”
The Mavericks play host to the Denver Cutthroats at 7:05 p.m. Friday and the Quad City Mallards at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. On Saturday, the Mavericks will honor four members of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic hockey team. Very few tickets are left for Friday's game, and Saturday night is close to selling out.
Wednesday’s win gives the 25-11-2 Mavericks 52 points, just two points behind the Rush and Americans.
“I'm not a scoreboard watcher,” Owen said before the game, “but at this time of the season, you wonder what the other teams are doing. But all we can do is take care of ourselves. If we keep playing like we have been the past few games, it's going to be a special season.”
It didn't take defenseman Dave Pszenyczny long to make an impact after a three-game suspension as he opened the first period with a power-play goal at 5:27. Sebastien Thinel and Eric Castonguay assisted on the score.
The Mavericks made it 2-0 when Castonguay scored off an Andrew Courtney assist. They scored the lone goal of the second period when Evan Vossen scored off an assist from Dean Moore and Tyler Currier.
The Chill cut into the Missouri lead when Cameron Cooper scored in the third period, but less than two minutes later, Courtney found the back of the net to make it 4-1. Thinel and Castonguay assisted on Courtney’s goal.
“Courts' goal was very big,” Hillman said, “because it kind of righted the ship and restored some calm. A three-goal lead is much bigger than a two-goal lead, and scoring right after an opponent scores is always big.
“Chezy (Pszenyczny) came back and made his presence felt. We have him on the same line he played on when he was suspended and he comes out and scores to open the game. It should be a nice bus ride back to the Events Center.”