Smiles, high-fives and bear hugs greeted Missouri Mavericks defenseman Henrik Odegaard, who spent the past 21 days away from his CHL team to join the Norway Olympic hockey squad.

“It seems like forever since he's been here,” said Mavericks coach Scott Hillman, who sported the biggest smile once Odegaard entered the Independence Events Center locker room Monday morning. “I'm proud of our boys. We held our own in his absence, but you don't replace a player like Henrik, you just hope to survive.”

The Mavericks did more than survive – they were 7-2 in while he was in Sochi, Russia, at the Winter Olympics and managed to climb into first place and currently hold a five-point lead over the Rapid City Rush.

“I know the team was 7-2 while I was away,” said Odegaard, who showed teammates and team personnel photos taken at Sochi on a new cell phone that featured the Olympic rings and Norway's flag on the case. “I kept up with the team, knew all about how they were doing.

“The Olympics were a great experience, but I am happy to be back. I can't wait for (tonight's) game against Allen. I know they had a crazy game against Allen while I was gone. I hope it's not crazy Tuesday, just a good hockey game.”

In their last meeting, the Mavericks and Americans combined for 156 penalty minutes in a fight-marred battle and Allen goaltender Mark Guggenberger was fined for knocking Mavs mascot Mac to the ice in pregame introductions.

Odegaard kept an exclusive Olympic diary that will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Examiner.