BRAMPTON, Ontario – The never-say-die Missouri Mavericks have overcome a nightmarish 36-hour bus ride from Independence to Brampton to claim dramatic back-to-back victories over the Brampton Beast at the Powerade Centre.
The Mavericks held on for a 3-2 win Thursday night and used a Sebastien Thinel shootout goal and the netminding of Erno Suomalainen and Shane Owen to rally after a last-minute goal by the Beast and claim a come-from-behind 5-4 shootout win Friday night.
Suomalainen was in the net the first two periods and Owen came on in relief in the third to pick up his league-leading and team record 33rd win, breaking Charlie Effinger's mark of 32, set in the 2011-12 season.
He did not allow a goal in the shootout for the second time in a week and Thinel's lone goal was enough for the first-place Mavericks to improve to 40-16-2. The win gives Missouri 82 points, six more than second-place Denver (76). The Mavericks also added to their Central Hockey League-best road record of 22-8-0.
“The boys found the way to get another big win,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said. “Erno had been out (with an injury) and we didn't want to push him. He gave us two good periods in the net and we decided it was time to put Shane in. We had the 4-3 lead and they came back to tie the game at 4-all, but the way Shane has played in overtime and shootouts, we were all confident that we would come away with two points.
“Our goal in Brampton was to leave here with six points, and we can do that with a win Sunday.”
The Beast took an early 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Frank Littlejohn and Andrew Fournier.
Missouri cut the deficit to 2-1 on an unassisted goal by Eric Castonguay at the 2:35 mark of the period. Dave Pszenyczny then scored the equalizer at 5:22.
Fournier, though, tallied his second goal of the evening to give the Beast a 3-2 lead.
Missouri took control in the third period as Pszenyczny and Castonguay each netted their second goals of the game. Pszenyczny scored 22 seconds into the period, assisted by Matt Stephenson and Castonguay.
Then Castonguay scored a power play goal on an assist from Thinel to give Missouri a 4-3 lead.
The Mavericks held that lead until 27 seconds left in regulation when Scott Howes slipped an extra-attacker goal past Owen.
“We had so much energy, we were disappointed we didn't win in overtime, but we were all confident going into overtime and the shootout,” Thinel said. “With Shane in the net – really, with either of our goalies in the net – you feel like you can win a shootout with one goal.”
Thinel is now just two assists away from taking over second place on the CHL's all-time assists list. He took over third place earlier this season.
“Those are the things you look at when you leave the game,” Thinel said. “Right now, all any of us are thinking about is a championship.”
Veteran forward Andrew Courtney agreed with the team captain.
“We got two big points tonight,” Courtney said. “We have an off day Saturday, which is nice because so many of the buys have relatives up here who have been coming to the games. We can relax a little bit, get some rest and be ready to get two more big points on Sunday.”