ST. CHARLES, Mo. – The line of Sebastien Thinel, Eric Castonguay and Andrew Courtney did plenty of damage in St. Charles Friday night.
The team's top line accounted for all four goals – including two by Castonguay – as the Missouri Mavericks ended a two-game losing streak and downed the first-year Chill 4-3 in front of a crowd of 5,536 that included several fans who made the drive from Eastern Jackson County.
“We looked up in the stands and saw several hundred of our fans, and they were loud and seemed to be having a good time,” Thinel, who scored just nine seconds into the first period and finished with a goal and two assists, said by phone. “I’m glad we could give them a win. We were not in a desperate situation, because we would have remained in first place even if we would have lost. But no one was happy with the way we lost our last two games (4-1 to Allen and 5-1 at Quad City). We did not play well. We knew it, the fans knew it, everyone knew it.
“We played much better tonight. We have not lost in this building and we came here with a lot of confidence. We got the early lead and they came back to tie it up (3-all), but we found a way to win. Now, we have to concentrate on our opponents this weekend – Wichita and St. Charles (at the Events Center).”
Courtney, who assisted on Thinel’s goal, gave Missouri a 2-0 lead at 10:09 of the first period with assists by Thinel and Castonguay.
“It’s so much fun playing with guys like Sebbie and Castonguay,” said Courtney, who finished with a goal and two assists. “If you put your stick on the ice, they’re going to find it. They are so skilled, so talented. We needed a win tonight and we found a way to win it.”
St. Charles cut the deficit to one on a Niklas Linberg goal late in the first period, but the Mavericks padded their lead to 3-1 on a Castonguay goal off a Thinel assist. It was the lone goal scored in the third period.
St. Charles scored two goals in the third period to knot the score at 3-all, but Castonguay helped the Mavericks improve to 34-16-2 with an unassisted game-winner at 11:28.
The win gives Missouri 70 points, followed by Rapid City (65), Allen (64), Denver (62) and Brampton (61).
“There are 14 games left and we’re in the driver’s seat.” Courtney added. “We hit a bump in the road with those two losses this week, but we’ve won a big game tonight and need to go home and play like we did tonight and we’ll be fine.”
Mavericks coach Scott Hillman let his team know this week that he expected 60 quality minutes each game the rest of the season.
“We got a great effort tonight,” Hillman said by phone from St. Charles. “It was an incredible way to start with Sebbie scoring nine seconds into the game. The line of Sebbie, Castonguay and Courts was just incredible.
“Shane (Owen) was outstanding in goal. They scored a couple that would have gotten past any goalie in the league. The main thing is we won. We hold a five-point lead, it’s ours to lose and we don’t plan on losing it.”
Owen, who leads the CHL in wins, improved to 27-12-1 with a 2.60 goals against average. Thinel is now fourth in the league in scoring with 72 points and first with 56 assists.
NEAR SELLOUT: There are less than 300 tickets for the 7:05 p.m. Saturday game against Wichita at the Events Center.
"We have not played well against Wichita this season," Thinel said, "and we need to get six points this weekend to have more separation between us and the teams that are chasing us for first place. We need a win Saturday night against Wichita, then we can start thinking about St. Charles on Sunday."
NIGHT OUT: Missouri Mavericks players Thinel, Colt King, Colten Hayes, Trevor Kell, Mike Ramsay and more of their teammates will be eating dinner with their fans from 6-8 p.m. Monday at Plowboys BBQ restaurant, 3111 S. Missouri 7 in Blue Springs. There will be a $5 pulled pork sandwich and fries special.