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Examiner
  • Promising rookies learned from Mavs' veterans

  • Before the start of this season, Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman pointed out a couple of youngsters who looked like they should be playing for the Jr. Mavs, not the coach's CHL team.

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  • Before the start of this season, Missouri Mavericks coach Scott Hillman pointed out a couple of youngsters who looked like they should be playing for the Jr. Mavs, not the coach's CHL team.
    “Keep your eye on those two,” Hillman said, grinning, “because they're going to be special.”
    Hillman didn't need a crystal ball to know that rookie forwards Kenton Miller and Kellan Tochkin would became a part of Mavs lore in just one short season.
    Miller, who played in just 53 games because of injuries and frequent call-ups by the AHL's Chicago Wolves, set a team single-season record with 30 goals and finished second in scoring with 51 points.
    Tochkin caught fire at the end of the season and led all postseason scorers with 17 points. He had 44 points during the regular season.
    “They are so good, and so young,” said team captain and league MVP Sebastien Thinel, who played on the same line with the two youngsters who each turned 22 in February. “I wish I had their future.
    “It was fun to be on the same line with them. They are like my boys!”
    In fact, assistant director of hockey operations pegged Miller and Tochkin with the nicknames Maddx and Jett, so named after Thinel's 3- and 2-year-old sons.
    “I had no idea what it would be like to play with Sebastien Thinel or a guy like Colt King,” Tochkin said. “I was scared to death of them at the beginning of the season, but it didn't take long to find out they were great guys.
    “Sebastien is like my daddy – my 'papa,' as his boys call him. We get a kick out being called Maddx and Jett. That's a compliment.”
    Miller said he will never forget his short stay with the Mavericks.
    “I had a ton of fun, learned so much from Coach Hillman and Sebastien and my other teammates and learned a lot about life as a pro,” said Miller, who is already being contacted by some NHL teams. “I was so lucky to have a roommate like Andrew Courtney, who really showed me what it was like to be a professional. He never gets excited, you know – too high, or too low – and he is such a great player.
    “And to play on the same line with Toch and Sebastien was like a dream come true. If you were open, you were going to get the puck. Those guys made sure you had every opportunity to score and help the team win.”
    Tochkin shared an apartment with fellow rookie goaltender Mike Clemente and veteran forward Brandon Smith, two rock-solid members of the Mavericks.
    “I know my parents were thrilled when they came to visit and saw I had great roommates and that our fridge was not full of junk food,” Tochkin said. “This has been a wonderful experience, something I'll always remember – from the fans to my teammates to this great facility.”
    Page 2 of 2 - They arrived as potential stars and lit up the Mavericks universe like bright, shining supernovas. It seems fitting that the sky's the limit for these young stars.
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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