Sebastien Thinel is a marquee player.
The reigning CHL scoring champion and league MVP is accustomed to headlines, postgame interviews and the type of attention that comes along with his iconic status.
Evan Vossen is a role player. He rolls up his shirt sleeves, grabs his lunch pail and heads to the ice, leaving a lot of blood, sweat and tears on the ice.
“You don't have a championship-caliber team without a guy like Voss,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said of the second-year forward who has scored goals in his last four games, while also starring in frequent appearances on the blue line.
“When we were hit by suspensions, illness and injury, I talked to him about playing on the blue line, and he said he would do anything to help this team. Not only has he done a lot to help us reach the top of the standings, he's been flawless in the move from forward to the blue line.
“In fact, I'm a little bit mad at him. I played on the blue line for a lot of years (with the Odessa Jackalopes) and it was never easy for me. He makes it look too easy.”
The Mavericks were scheduled to face off against one of three teams tied for the stop spot in the CHL standings Tuesday night, but the contest against Allen has been rescheduled for Feb. 25 at the Independence Events Center.
Allen, Rapid City and the Mavericks all have 54 points and sit in a three-way tie for first place.
Barring another blast of snow and ice from Mother Nature, Allen will visit the IEC at 7:05 p.m. Saturday following a road game at Wichita at 7:05 p.m. Friday, and Vossen can't wait.
“Our team is special,” said Vossen, who is second on the team with a plus-15 rating and has 21 points in 38 games. “We all enjoy being around each other so much that we can't wait for practice, or getting together after practice to go out to lunch or just hang out.
“We have guys on this team who have won it all, in this league or Major Juniors, and you like being around those type of players. We want to win every game the rest of the season – but that's being unrealistic.
“But when you lose – like we did Friday night (4-2 to Denver, after leading 2-0 early in the game), we have the clubhouse leaders who get us focused and back on track.”
The Mavericks followed that disappointing loss with a dominating 3-1 victory over the Quad City Mallards Saturday night, which Hillman called “one of the best games” in franchise history.
So, now that Vossen is a scoring machine, is he hanging up his blue collar and lunch pail and going for a more glitzy look.
“Oh, no, not at all,” he said, laughing. “When Scott called me into his office early this season, we talked about the blue line because he thought (rookie defenseman Henrik) Odegaard had a good chance of going to the Olympics (to play for his native Norway).
“Well, that happened – but long before Henrik left, we had the injuries and suspensions and Scott asked me to play some defense and I was happy to do it. I just didn't want to be a liability, or the guy who messed up and cost us a game.”
That was never the case.
“Voss and Sebbie (Thinel, who was also asked to move to defense) were amazing on the blue line,” said goalie Shane Owen, who leads the CHL with 21 wins. “They did a great job communicating and you couldn't tell it wasn't their normal position.
“When we needed them the most, they really came through.”
Now, if he is asked to play forward or defenseman, Vossen jokingly says he can go out and react and not have to jump-start his brain.
“At first, I was thinking way too much out there,” the good-natured Vossen said. “Now, it's more natural. I had played defense since little league, and maybe a shift at school. But Coach knows he can count on me – or any other guy on this team – to do whatever it takes to win.
“I was part of last year's team that made it to Game 7 of the semifinals and we lost at Allen. Some guys have been part of two teams that lost on the road in Game 7 back-to-back years, and we don't want to swallow that bitter pill again.
“We're working hard to get home ice throughout the playoffs. With the energy we get from our fans, we know the importance of playing at home, and we're working hard to make that happen.”