In the same fashion the first-place Missouri Mavericks have dominated opponents this season, the CHL squad also dominated the 2013-2014 Best of the Best Awards.
Many of the players who were honored Wednesday afternoon were celebrity waiters and hosts at Plowboys, a popular new barbecue joint in south Blue Springs, later that night.
And they must have felt right at home as they were greeted by a standing-room-only crowd that snaked its way out the north door of the restaurant. The Mavericks lead the CHL in attendance and sellouts.
While Trevor Kell and Mike Ramsay were delivering trays of food, Colt King and Obi Aduba were handing out samples of a wide variety of treats ranging from corned beef Panini samples to smoked meatballs wrapped in bacon.
Team captain and reigning league MVP Sebastien Thinel was even brave enough to man the headsets and take drive-thru orders.
“The boys are having as much fun as the fans,” said coach Scott Hillman, who took it all in between signing autographs, posing for photos and helping with the occasional delivery of a trays stacked high with award-winning barbecue.
The Mavericks won 13 first-place honors in the annual league poll, eight seconds and 12 third-place awards to dominate for the second year in a row (see related story).
“You know what is so cool about the awards?” asked Thinel, who was named the Best Playmaker and Best Shooter in a Shootout. “It's that Mac won for Best Mascot and Steve (Garrett) our PA announcer, won, too.
“As a player, you don't really care about the individual awards. All we care about right now is keeping first place. But it's fun to look at the awards and see that our fans were named the best in the league.
“We have a first-class organization, and I don't think we would be as successful without our fans. That's why we enjoy a night like this. It's fun to come out and visit with them, and then we get to eat the best barbecue in the state.”
Other Mavericks award winners were John-Scott Dickson, Best Penalty Killer; Matt Stephenson, Best Defensive Defenseman; Colt King, Best Fighter (Heavyweight) and Best Power Forward; and the always-smiling Mike Ramsay, Most Gentlemanly.
“How'd the dirtiest team in the league,” Hillman said with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “have the No. 1 and No. 2 (Eric Castonguay was second) Lady Byng (Most Gentlemanly) winners?
“Will you please send a copy of your story to (rival) Allen?”
The Allen Americans and Mavericks have established a rivalry that has sometimes gone beyond the ice and all the way to league office, where penalties and suspensions have been handed down.
“You look at the boys here tonight. Rammer (Ramsay) is smiling, like he always is. Colt – the most intimidating player in the league – is charming everyone, and Sebbie (Thinel) is having as much fun as anyone in here and he's a 12-year vet who is playing for one reason – to win a championship.
“They didn't come in first, but we're all thrilled to see the unsung guys like Kellsie (Trevor Kell, Most Underrated Player) and Vosser (Evan Vossen, Best Penalty Killer) get some recognition.
“They're out here tonight having as much fun as anyone.”
Team officials, coaches, players and support staff vote on the awards. The CHL official awards will be announced later in the season. See related story for the complete list of top three finishers in each category.