WICHITA, Kan. – Jinx? What jinx?
The first-place Missouri Mavericks ended a five-game losing skid to the Wichita Thunder by claiming a dominating 4-1 victory Friday night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
They then boarded the bus back to Independence, where they face the first-place Allen Americans at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Confused? Don’t be, because there is a logjam atop the CHL standings with Missouri, Allen and Rapid City all sharing the top spot with 56 points.
Allen topped Quad City 5-2 Friday night, while Denver edged the Rush 3-2.
“We went into tonight’s game knowing that we needed a win and the boys really responded,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said by phone from Wichita, as Mike Ramsay scored two goals and Shane Owen stopped 36 of 37 Thunder shots.
“We’ve won two of four games in this building, and tonight was huge, because we have Allen at home tomorrow and then we turn around and come right back here Sunday to face Wichita again.
“This is the time of the season where the points are so important. We want – we need – home ice in the playoffs, and if we keep playing the way we did tonight the rest of the season, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Wichita’s Andrew Martens scored at 14:34 of the first period to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead going into the second 20 minutes of action, but the rest of the night belonged to the 27-12-2 Mavericks.
“It was a weird first period,” the coach said. “We executed our game plan perfectly, but we were either too slow, or too quick to the puck and we got some bad bounces. Even though we were down, we were very confident going into the second period.”
Ramsay knotted the score at 1-all with an even-strength goal off assists from Eric Castonguay and Sebastien Thinel, and Castonguay gave Missouri a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal off assists from Andrew Courtney and Matt Stephenson at 9:03.
Ramsay then scored on a power play off assists from the same two teammates to give the Mavericks a bit of breathing room, and rookie Rob Kleebaum scored an empty-netter in the final minute to account for the final score.
“We were perfect tonight on special teams – 2-for-2 on our power play and they were 0-for-2 against out penalty kill unit,” the coach said. “Shane did a nice job in the net and now we enjoy a quick bus ride home because we have two more big games this weekend.”
Hillman praised the play of new defenseman Jeff Buvinow, who was part of the team’s second-line power play unit.
“Jeff made his presence felt on the ice tonight,” Hillman said. “He’s going to be a great addition to our team.”