Action on the ice got a bit testy and tempers flared late in the opening period of the Missouri Mavericks’ 4-1 Central Hockey League win Friday over Wichita at the Independence Events Center.

Action on the ice got a bit testy and tempers flared late in the opening period of the Missouri Mavericks’ 4-1 Central Hockey League win Friday over Wichita at the Independence Events Center.

With the Mavericks ahead 2-0 in the 17th minute of the first period, the Thunder’s Chris McAllister, a 6-foot-7, 245 pound defenseman, got into a brief altercation with Mavericks veteran right wing Jeff Christian that sent both to the penalty box.

The skirmish came 31⁄2 minutes after Wichita’s Chris Kovalcik and the Mavs’ Karl Sellan dropped their gloves for a not-so-friendly dance that stirred the Events Center crowd of 5,728.

The fisticuffs were just getting started, however. After McAllister’s bout with Christian, McAllister approached Mavs’ goaltender Doug Groenestege as McAllister headed to the locker room to sit out the rest of the period. Groenestege took liberty to what he described as a cheap shot by McAllister on Christian.

Soon the jawing between Groenestege and McAllister gave way to a McAllister shove to Groenestege’s neck. The Mavs’ netminder responded by mixing it up with the Thunder’s henchman until the Missouri calvary arrived to save the night for Groenestege.

“I was kind of second guessing myself because (McAllister) is a lot bigger than me,” said the 6-2, 215-pound Groenestege. “But he kind of took a cheap shot at one of our top players (Christian) and kind of got away with it. As he was going off the ice, I kind of let him know what I thought of him for doing that, and he kind of took a swing at me. I was fighting my life after that.

“I was kind of looking up at a giant, but sometimes you have to do it for the team to make sure the other team knows that they are not going to push us around.”

When the smoke cleared, McAllister was cited five minutes for fighting with Christian, two minutes for un-sportsmanlike conduct for shoving Groenestege and 10 minutes for instigating the dust-up that occurred after his unsportsmanlike conduct. Groenestege received a two minute unsportsmanlike penalty for his action and Christian a five minute fighting major for his role.

“You can consider me a little bit of a chicken because I was hiding behind my men,” Groenestege said. “I was kind of outmatched there. Nothing really happened there. I got a couple of shots in and (McAllister) got one in. The guys jumped in there and kept me in the game and protected me, which is good.”

Groenestege’s play was more than good on Friday. He stopped 25 of 26 shots and helped the Mavs upend the Thunder for the fifth time in five tries.

“It’s kind of our new rivalry,” Groenestege said. “Lots of our games have been against them so you want to set the precedent early that we are not going to be pushed around. If that’s what they want to do, then we’re going to be ready for it.”

The Mavericks wasted little time showing the Thunder that they were ready. Sellan’s goal on a deflection of Andrew Davis’ shot in the 10th minute put the Mavs up 1-0. Davis and Christian were both credited with an assist on the power-play goal.

Three minutes later, Mavs center Bill Vandermeer took a pass from forward Brett Hammond – who  made a nifty move to circle around the Thunder’s net before dropping the puck off to Vandermeer – and notched his fifth goal of the season. The goal put the Mavs up 2-0 and solicited a few outbursts from the Thunder.

“You know that’s the makeup of their team,” Mavericks head coach Scott Hillman said. “They’re so big that they pride themselves on being physical, but so do we. With the amount of times that we have played each other already in this short season, it definitely contributes to that rivalry.”

Hillman added he wasn’t surprised that the two teams had a few scrums, but he was pleasantly surprised that Groenestege was in the middle of one.

“He is a team guy,” Hillman said of his goaltender, who improved to 4-4 on the season. “I think he felt that their big man took liberties on Jeff Christian. Not that Jeff can’t handle himself, but you never want to see a guy get jumped. Groenestege had the last look at the guy as he left the ice, so I think that got his blood boiling and he had a few words for him.”

Forward Nick Sirota and center Chad Hinz also scored goals for the Mavs, who are now 6-8-1 overall after a 2-6-1 start.

“Last night was big for us,” Hinz said of a 5-4 Mavericks shootout win over host Tulsa Thursday night. “But it wouldn’t have meant nothing if we didn’t come out tonight and beat Wichita.”

Hinz, the Mavericks leading goal scorer with seven, also notched an assist Friday night, his 14th of the season. He said the Mavericks’ third game in three nights tonight at Bossier-Shreveport in Louisiana is just as important as the previous two.

“It’s been a good weekend and we want to finish it off right in Bossier (Saturday),” he said.

FRIDAY’S SUMMARY
MISSOURI MAVERICKS 4, WICHITA THUNDER 1
At Independence Events Center
THUNDER       0    1    0    —    1
MAVERICKS    2    1    1    —    4
First Period—1, Mavericks, Karl Sellan (power play) (Andrew Davis, Jeff Christian), 10:29; 2, Mavericks, Bill Vandermeer (Brett Hammond), 13:39. Penalties—Kevin Truelson, Wichita (interference), 5:25; Joel Hanson, Wichita (slashing), 8:59; Carlyle Lewis, Mavericks (slashing), 11:00; Karl Sellan, Mavericks (major, fighting), 13:46; Chris Kovalcik, major, fighting), 13:46; Jeff Christian, Mavericks (major, fighting), 17:20; Doug Groenestege (unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:20; Chris McAlister, Wichita (major, fighting), 17:20; Chris McAlister, Wichita (10-minute misconduct, fighting instigator), 17:20; Chris McAlister, Wichita (fighting instigator), 17:20.

Second Period—3, Mavericks, Nick Sirota (shorthanded) (Andrew Davis, Chad Hinz), 11:39; 4, Wichita, Joel Hanson (Jason Deleurme), 13:55. Penalties—Carlyle Lewis, Mavericks (major, fighting), 5:15; Chris Kovalcik, Wichita (major, fighting), 5:15; Jason Woll, Wichita (slashing), 6:38; Scott Campbell, Wichita (slashing), 7:45; Bret Tyler, Mavericks (holding), 10:06; Simon Watson, Mavericks (holding), 15:35.

Third Period—5, Mavericks, Chad Hinz (power play) (Mike Burgoyne, Doug Groenestege), 4:19. Penalties—Karl Sellan, Mavericks (hooking), 1:07; Troy Ofukany, Wichita (double minor, high sticking), 3:05; Glenn Detulleo, Wichita (slashing), 4:44; Scott Campbell, Wichita (roughing), 8:53; Carlyle Lewis, Mavericks (slashing), 11:11.

Shots on goal—Wichita 6-10-10–26; Mavericks 7-16-17–40.
Power-play opportunities—Wichita 0 for 5; Mavericks 2 for 8.
Goalies—Wichita, Scott Campbell 2-9-1 (40 shots, 36 saves); Mavericks, Doug Groenestege 4-4-0 (26 shots, 25 saves).
Stars of the game—First: Doug Groenestege, Mavericks; Second: Chad Hinz, Mavericks; Third: Andrew Davis, Mavericks.

Time—2:22.
Attendance—5,728.
Referee—Justin Greene; Linesmen—Jordan Crowell, Robert Collier.