BRAMPTON, Ontario – The Missouri Mavericks survived a 36-hour bus ride to Brampton and a third period push by the expansion Beast to claim a 3-2 victory Thursday night at the Powerade Centre.
“Anything that could go wrong with a bus did go wrong with the bus ride here,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said after his first-place team improved to 39-16-2 for 80 points to open up a six-point lead over the Rapid City Rush and Denver Cutthroats (74 apiece) with just six games left in the regular season.
“The boys really came through tonight,” the coach added. “I know they were tired – I was tired! We had mechanical issues, weather issues, highway issues, detours – and somehow, they managed to dig deep and get the first win this season over a very good Brampton team.”
The Beast claimed two wins in Missouri earlier this season, but John-Scott Dickson – playing in front of family and friends who came from nearby Toronto – scored two goals and Eric Castonguay added the game-winner in a three-goal second period for the Mavericks.
The Mavs managed just two shots on goal in the third period and Josh McQuade scored two goals – one unassisted and one on a power play – to cut the Beast’s deficit to one goal.
“I've played 12 years and I thought I'd seen everything you could see on a bus ride, but this tops them all,” said Thinel, who picked up an assist on Castonguay's team-leading 28th goal. “First, we had problems with the trailer hitch and had to leave all our gear on the highway and try to get it fixed. Then we had to go back and load a lot of the gear on the bus.
“Then, we have problems with the generator on the bus. Then there was a problem with the clutch. Finally, we get to the border, and they are nice and we get into Canada quickly, but we come on a wreck and what should have taken one and a half hours takes six. I didn't think we would ever make it. But we made it and we found a way to win. That might be the biggest two points of the season.”
Thinel said workhorse goalkeeper Shane Owen had a lot to do with that, stopping 37 of 39 shots to boost his CHL-leading win total to 32.
“Shane (Owen) was amazing in the first and third periodsm” said Thinel, who had an assist on Castonguay’s goal. “He made some stops in the (scoreless) first period you couldn't believe. Then he made huge stops in the third period to keep them from tying the game. I'm proud of all the boys tonight.”
The win was a team record 21st on the road and allowed the Mavericks to tie their all-time best regular-season win total with 39. The Mavericks improved to 21-8-0 away from the Independence Events Center this season.
“And it was Shane's 32nd win, which ties him with Charlie (Effinger),” Hillman said of the team record for goalie wins. “When Charlie won 32 he carried the team on his back. Shane has been amazing this season, and we are a much better team than that third season when Charlie won 32 and started all those games. We aren't where we are – first place in the standings – without Shane Owen in the net. He really saved us tonight, especially with some big saves you had to see to believe.”
The Mavericks and Beast conclude the season series with two more games this weekend – 7:30 tonight (6:30 Central time) and 2 p.m. (1 p.m. CDT) Sunday.