Editor's note: The Examiner is announcing the members of the Missouri Mavericks' Top 10 all-time team this week. Each sports section will feature a member of the squad, as voted on by fans on the Mavericks home web page. Charlie Effinger, a goaltender who played the biggest role in Missouri’s stunning playoff appearance in the team’s first season, is featured today.
By Bill Althaus
That was a familiar chant when all-time fan favorite Charlie Effinger manned the net for the Missouri Mavericks in the team’s first and third seasons.
When the rookie Mavericks squad was struggling, the team made a trade late in the season with the Allen Americans for the goaltender, who finished with a 9-3-1 record and 2.68 goals against average.
“The team climbed on Charlie’s back,” former Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said, “and he carried us to the playoffs.”
Once in the playoffs, Missouri swept two games from the Mississippi RiverKings, advancing to a series where, as Effinger quips, “We got pummeled by Rapid City. But we’ll never forget that series against Mississippi.
“We were the Bad News Bears of the CHL. No one thought we could get in the playoffs, but we had a group of young knuckleheads like me who didn’t know we were supposed to lose that first playoff series and the grizzled old veterans like Lewie (team captain Carlyle Lewis) who led us to the promised land.
“The sold-out crowds, the greatest fans in all of minor league hockey, the friendships I made – I don’t know how many times I was invited to a barbecue, to go fishing, over to someone’s house for dinner – it was the greatest two seasons of hockey I could ever imagine, and I owe it all to the best organization in the CHL and the great fans and friends I made in Missouri.”
Following a year’s stint in Newcastle, England, where the Newcastle team paid for Effinger’s master’s degree, he returned to Missouri and enjoyed what was then a record 2011-12 season with a 32-15-4 record and 2.70 goals against average.
The team advanced to the semifinals, in which they lost Game 7 to the eventual Central Hockey League champion Fort Wayne Komets.
Effinger then moved up to the ECHL and played a season for the Komets, who had switched leagues. Effinger is now working for a hedge fund company in New York, 2nd Curve Capital.
“I’m working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day because I want to learn everything there is to know about this profession,” said Effinger, who has an apartment in Brooklyn. “It’s a challenge – I feel like it’s 3 vs. 3 every day – but I love the challenge.”
Effinger never backed down from a challenge. He was a star when the team had nowhere near the talent it showcases today. In his second season with the Mavericks, the iron man played in 51 of 66 games and 3,028 minutes a year after going 3,081 minutes for Newcastle.
“No one worked harder than Charlie,” defenseman Dave Pszenyczny said. “We’d kill ourselves for Charlie, because we know he’d do the same thing for us. You just feel proud being on the ice with a teammate like Charlie Effinger.”
Mavericks fans must feel the same way, as Effinger is the newest member of the Mavericks All-Time Top 10 team.
“Really? That makes me question the voting system,” Effinger quipped. “What an honor. I had the time of my life in Independence. And I want to thank the fans for remembering me and the good times.
“You know, except for some of my college teammates, I talk with more of my former Maverick teammates than any other team I played for. I still talk with Lewie, Chezy (Pszenyczny), Sebbie (Sebastien Thinel) and Courts (Andrew Courtney). I follow the team and think the new coach (Richard Matvichuk) is going to be good for the team.
“And I text with Scott on a pretty regular basis. I haven’t talked with him since he took the job in Indianapolis, but I know that will be a good move for him. I owe him and Brent (Thiessen, team president and general manager) a lot because they are the ones responsible for me playing with the Mavericks.”
Thiessen calls that trade one of the best moves in the five-year history of the team.
“Everyone loves Charlie,” Thiessen said. “He’s one of the most intelligent guys I’ve been around. You could talk to Charlie about anything. He came to the team in such dramatic fashion that first year, and the fans fell in love with him.
“We’ve only been in the CHL five years, and we are so lucky to have had some amazing players on this team, and Charlie is one of them. You know he’s going to be a great success. There’s only one Charlie Effinger, and he is a great representative of the all-time top 10 team.”